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IN Mrs. Jordan's life " delightful Mrs. Jordan, 
whose voice did away the cares of the whole house " 
there was no mystery : she was frank, gay and 
sensible, holding reserve only upon those things which 
she thought might discredit people whom she loved. 
Yet her biographers, Sir Jonah Barrington and James 
Boaden, managed to find mystery at every step of her 
career. The mystery about the date and place of her 
birth was simple enough : firstly, no one tried to solve 
it, and secondly, Mrs. Jordan had no wish for people 
to say that she was nearly four years older than the 
Duke of Clarence; has it not always been a woman's 
privilege to be vague about the year of her birth? 
The mystery about her father's and mother's station 
in life needed seeking in the right direction, though 
that which surrounded their asserted marriage was 
perhaps more difficult. The reason generally given 
for the adoption of the name of Jordan rests only on 
the word of that genial and self-complacent boaster, 
Tate Wilkinson, who gives several versions of his 
share in that matter. Whether the Duke took money 
from her or she took money from him has been the 
cause of another argument; her biographers hastily 
scouting the first idea with royal scorn. Her separa- 
tion from the Duke, after twenty years of life together, 
and the cause of her exile, were deliberately turned into 
mystery by the two contemporary writers, one of whom 



at least professed to know all the circumstances. 
James Boaden, author, dramatist, dramatic critic and 
editor of the Oracle, even tried to make a mystery of 
the last event of all, and adduced facts to prove that 
Mrs. Jordan was not dead. 

Why should all this have been, seeing what an open- 
hearted, downright woman she was ? The reason was 
not far to seek. These two biographies were written 
during the life of William IV; Harrington's before 
1830, and Boaden's in 1830 and both these men wor- 
shipped at the shrine of royalty; they kissed the feet 
of the King, and, obedient creatures, strove hard to 
blot from their pages everything which could hurt his 
extremely delicate susceptibilities. The very strength 
of their protestations as to the virtue and honour of 
William partly gave their case away. In a recent 
biography of Mrs. Jordan published when this book 
was nearing completion there is also a tendency to 
save the Duke's character at the woman's expense, by 
throwing doubt upon statements adverse to him made 
by the author of a third early book upon the actress's 
life; an author who, undaunted save in declaring his 
name, voiced during the reign of William the beliefs 
of the multitude and the pronouncements of the day. 
This anonymous writer added much to the accounts 
given by Barrington concerning Mrs. Jordan's death 
and burial. 

In the present volume will be found authorized 
statements, many of which have never before been 
published, as to Dorothy Jordan's parentage, both on 
her father's and mother's sides; as to her brothers, 
sisters and other relatives, showing her to have been 
the centre of a large family group; also indisputable 

Preface vii 

evidence of the date of her birth and baptismal name, 
hitherto frankly regarded as impossible of discovery. 
A new reason is here suggested, based upon family 
matters, for her adoption of the theatrical name of 
Jordan; here is her own evidence as to the Duke's 
constant acceptance of benefit from her work, and 
legal proof as to the way in which he repaid part of the 
sums she lent him. Here from contemporary writings 
is shown why she and the Duke parted, and why she 
went to France ; and here is conclusive evidence of her 
death. Thus much new light is thrown, not only upon 
the life of Dorothy Jordan, but upon the character 
of that obstinate, erratic, stupid, good-natured and 
intensely selfish King known as William IV. 

For the knowledge which I have been so fortunate 
as to obtain I am grateful to many friends. First and 
foremost to Mr. A. M. Broadley, who, possessing a 
large number of Mrs. Jordan's autograph letters and 
other documents, suggested the writing of this book, 
lent me all he had on the subject, and gave many of 
the illustrations. Mr. Broadley had already caused 
the registers of and around Waterford the place 
usually assigned to her birth to be searched, and as 
these gave no proof, pointed out to me the place where 
it might be and was found. It was he, also, who 
instituted inquiries at St. Cloud, the place of her death, 
and successfully discovered valuable evidence. 

Another most kind and valued helper has been 
Mr. J. Franklin Fuller, F.S.A., of Dublin, a descend- 
ant of the Bland family, who has not only lent me 
priceless books and letters, but at much expense of 
time to himself has aided me in clearing up disputed 
points, secured for me portraits of Mrs. Jordan's 

viii Preface 

relatives and the right of quoting from family corre- 
spondence. To these two I owe more than I can 

I offer my grateful acknowledgments to the Earl 
of Munster for permission to reproduce the statue of 
Mrs. Jordan, executed by Chantrey; to Mr. Horace 
Bleackley, M.A., who kindly allowed me to consult 
in his library otherwise unobtainable books and maga- 
zines; to Mr. Richard Kelly and Mr. W. J. Lawrence, 
who together gave me the key which opened one door 
of knowledge; to General Thomas Bland Strange, 
R.A., for permission to use letters; to Mr. William 
Roberts for information concerning the portraits of 
Dorothy Jordan; and also to Mrs. White of Dublin, 
Major L. Hewson and Messrs. Duveen Brothers for 
permission to reproduce pictures. 


Hampton-on- Thames. 



















XVII THE SEPARATION . . . . . . .310 






INDEX 423 


To fact pafe 

DOROTHY JORDAN Frontispiece 

(From a painting by John Hoppner, R.A. Reproduced from a photograph 
by kind permission of Messrs, Duveen Brothers) 




(MRS. ALSOP) 54 


(After Romney) 


(From a. miniature by Cosway) 





(From a mezzotint after Hoppner in the collection of the Cunard Company) 

DOROTHY JORDAN ........ 346 

(From a pastel by John Russell, R.A.) 


(From the statue by Chantrey in the possession of the Earl of Munster) 

* These illustrations are reproduced from prints in the 
Collection of Mr. A. M. Broadley. 




" What is known can seldom be immediately told, and when it might 
be told it is no longer known." MALEY'S Historical Recollections. 

" How happy the soldier who lives on his pay, 
And spends half-a-crown out of sixpence a day." 

From a song sung by Dorothy Jordan. 

IF there is one person in our later history who might 
stand as the type of motherhood, it is Dorothy Bland, 
later known as Mrs. Jordan. Her great yet unblessed 
quality was protectiveness, and from her childhood she 
expended her sympathy and help upon those who were 
weak and appealing; in her girlhood she supported 
those who should have worked for her, in her woman- 
hood she spent herself upon her children and upon 
the helpless man who, thinking he conferred honour, 
made extravagant demands upon her income, her 
strength and her love. She gave with both hands, 
gave honestly and fearlessly, and though in middle 
life she refused to go penniless when called upon to 
stand bereft of all before the world, yet she never took 
back the love she had given, never publicly uttered a 
word of reproach against the Duke who cast her entirely 


12 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

out of his life, while her daughter led the dance at the 
Regent's balls and her sons were accepted naturally 
in Court circles. 

A hundred and twenty years ago social morality was 
much the same as it is now : a man might become the 
lover of many women, and only add a glorified halo 
to his reputation ; but the woman who, in addition to 
having a lover was not in an assured social position, 
was condemned. An actress was, ipso facto, without 
the pale, and the curious thing was that it was not so 
much Society which judged as the intellectual portion 
of the community, that very portion which now is 
striving to equalize the standard of morality between 
man and woman, which is beginning to assert that what 
is sin in the one is sin in the. other. When Dorothy 
Jordan lived, however, the gay and frivolous cared 
very little what she had done, and they felt quite able 
to judge between her and the Prince; it remained for 
the staid, reforming writers to expend their wrath and 
indignation over the woman who was the centre of a 
royal scandal. It was the virtuous British public which 
screamed itself hoarse in reprobation of her, and then 
went into the street to cheer the Duke of Clarence's 
carriage as it splashed mud over them from the gutter. 
After Dorothy's death that same public screamed at 
the Duke and wept for her. So far as the public went 
it implied no more than that it loved to have its 
feelings well moved, and that any determined hand 
could thoroughly stir up the puddle of popular 

When Boaden, in 1830, brought out a life of Mrs. 
Jordan, some critic asked why such a person should be 
brought into notice at all. Cobbett, too, raked up an 

Dorothy's Family 13 

old story and in extreme scorn spoke of her as " Mother 
Jordan," thus giving her the great title that really all 
the world loves. Dr. Townsend Young expressed his 
belief in her wickedness when, in the chapter upon her 
that he added to Sir Jonah Harrington's Personal 
Sketches, he did it, as he piously said, " not merely to 
enhance the value of this volume by gratifying the 
curiosity created by Mrs. Jordan's name, but also to 
assert the dignity and safety of principle, to point a 
moral, and to indicate the consoling maxim, 'Virtue 
alone is happiness below.' J 

That Dorothy was not virtuous in the way he meant 
was not her fault; the desire of her life was to be 
legally married, and she fought hard for the fulfilment 
of that desire, but circumstances were too strong for her. 
She was born illegitimate, though her parents lived 
together for fifteen years; she was forced by threats 
to bear an illegitimate child, and later, sophistries 
and broken promises put her into the position of an 
unmarried wife. Then she gave up the struggle and 
frankly became a mistress, and from that time held 
the post of whipping-boy to the Duke of Clarence. 
Her most important biographers, in the frantic desire 
to lick the Duke's boots, regarded his grasping selfish- 
ness as but the manifestation of some amiable weak- 
ness on the woman's part. They were men, and they 
felt, even if unconsciously, the natural sex bias for the 
Duke. Up to the present day all who have written 
upon Dorothy Jordan have sung to the same note. 
They praise, they pity, they admire, but through every 
phase of their recitals, there rings a faint cynicism, a 
consciousness that the subject of their memoirs was, 
after all, only a light woman, and so not to be treated 

14 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

by an ordinary standard ; they feel a little apologetic, 
too, that such a matter should engage their attention, 
and a little ashamed of the fascination that it holds for 
them. They cannot believe that this woman can have 
wielded a good influence over a Royal Duke, and so 
they leave alone this side of her character, and spend 
pages in trying to prove that only a few harmless 
episodes can be recorded against him, and that his 
worst fault was a want of tact. 

So Dorothy Jordan is now remembered as a 
renowned actress, a person of low origin, one who 
knew not her grandfathers, who lived a mistress and 
who died mysteriously. While the general idea of 
William is that he possessed bluff, hearty ways, 
showed faithful affection to his wife Adelaide, and 
love for his children ; that he was a man of hot temper, 
was sometimes rude to those who annoyed him, was 
even sometimes a little stupid, but that he was the best 
of the Georgian line of kings, indeed, as good a king 
as he knew how to be. 

But would King William IV have been even so 
much as this had it not been for Dorothy Bland if 
she had not rescued him from the companionship of 
his dissipated brothers, if she had not given him twenty 
years of her life, fostered his domestic instincts, kept 
him respectable when all other surroundings tempted 
him into irregularities, and often filled his empty purse 
with her hard-earned money? 

By him she had ten healthy children, whose numer- 
ous descendants appear in Debrett and The Landed 
Gentry, and most of whom founded or strengthened 
our noble families. Among them now, at least, her 
name is honoured, even though her eldest son and 

Dorothy's Family 15 

daughter were too uplifted by their father's rank to 
remember their mother. But Elands and Fitzclarences 
alike now prize the memory of the gallant, loyal, little 
woman to whom laughter was life, and who died 
despairingly when tears burned her cheeks and sorrow 
filled her heart. 

Strangely enough the great purist, Queen Victoria 
herself, helped to pick Dorothy out of the contemptu- 
ous public indifference, when she allowed her grand- 
daughter, our Princess Royal, the daughter of King 
Edward and a sister of our present King, to marry the 
Duke of Fife, a great-grandson of Dorothy through 
her daughter Elizabeth. Queen Victoria, before her 
moral sentiments became too rigid, was very tender- 
hearted, and to Dorothy's family she was always good, 
even to the extent of allowing from her own purse an 
annuity of 100 a year to Hester, the actress's eldest 
sister, until her death in 1848. 

If mother-love was Dorothy's strongest quality, its 
cousin, loyalty, was almost as sturdy. From the first 
to the last she uttered no complaint against those who 
put their burdens on her shoulders, an insincere and 
weak father, a dependent mother, incapable brothers 
and sisters, selfish children, and the broken reed of a 
man upon whom she put her trust ; she bore with them 
all, through good and ill, and, as far as those outside 
her home knew, their faults were for her writ in water. 

"Had he left me to starve I would never have 
uttered a word to his disadvantage ! " she once said of 
the Duke, and she meant it. To the end of her life 
she shielded him and all of them with a fine generosity, 
and they all took it as a matter of course, and left 
her to face loneliness and death unshielded herself. 

1 6 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Surely an account of her life is worth writing, not 
so much by way of categorical description of her daily 
round and common task, as in revealment of her 
character and as an account of the romance which from 
first to last hovered round her. Yet it may be wondered 
whether the strength of romantic love ever claimed 
her personally, whether in her youth she had the 
chance of expending herself upon one whose touch 
could send a thrill through her veins, or whose glance 
could bring a glow to her face. 

Daly, the man who in her girlhood regarded her 
simply as a feminine thing placed naturally within his 
grasp, she loathed with all her heart. Richard Ford ! 
she must have liked him well to have accepted him, 
but there is no proof that she loved him with any 
intensity. When it came to the Duke of Clarence girl- 
hood had departed, her life was arranged, and romance 
had fled on the delicate wings of innocence. Yet faith- 
ful love and loyalty remained, and these she nurtured 
and poured out upon him and her children. There 
were many storms in her existence, and there were 
exquisite times of happiness as there must always be 
for one who loves much ; but the whole was completed 
by months of martyrdom caused by those she had 
cherished, by their stupidity, their self-love and the 
fatal fault of leaving to others to do the thing that 
should have been done by themselves. 


It has not been easy to determine the parentage and 
early surroundings of Dorothy Jordan, for the earliest 
publications about her were not correct, yet correct 
enough to be generally disbelieved, as they showed 
her birth to be not altogether despicable. Probably 

Dorothy's Family 17 

the first published account of her was in a number of 
the Town and Country Magazine in 1786, though it 
was very slight. James Boaden, who was a journalist 
and who knew her personally, gives in his Life of Mrs. 
Jordan a by no means true account of her parents, but 
he followed other publications which had never been 
contradicted, and he was partly right. Jordan's Elixir 
of Life, first published in 1788, provided the best sum- 
mary that can be found. This little book was a selec- 
tion of songs sung by her, issued at a time when her 
gaiety had infected the public, when crowds would 
gather at the stage door to watch her step into her 
carriage, and when her acting, her salary, and her 
private life formed the staple topic of conversation 
among theatre lovers. 

The Elixir gave her a father, Captain Bland, a 
mother, Grace Philipps, a maternal grandfather, 
paternal relatives, four brothers and sisters, a birth- 
year which was quite wrong, and declared her to be 
an orphan. This was followed by an article in the 
anonymous Secret History of the Green Room (written 
by Joseph Haslewood, about 1791), in which these 
facts were amplified; and the Bon Ton Magazine, 
which had been in the habit of giving criticisms of her 
in its monthly parts, practically lifted the " Secret 
History" article for its March number of 1793. This 
Bon Ton Magazine, or Microscope of Fashion and 
Folly, was issued monthly for some years, and 
regarded as interesting reading for Society was most 
extraordinary in its vulgarity of moral tone and its 
erotic prints. Yet quite as indecent pictures were 
published by the caricaturists and sold to the populace 
as well as to those whose opportunities for licentious- 

1 8 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

ness were increased by wealth and position. If these 
things were produced because as the newspaper 
people say of their productions now they were what 
the public wanted, then the Royal Princes have been 
somewhat hardly treated in being regarded as the 
supreme exponents of the vices of their age. For a 
magazine of this sort could not have been published 
for a decade had it not been popular enough to pay for 
its production. Each month inter alia it contained 
an account of some vulgar amour among notable 
people, accompanied by a picture emphasizing their 
follies; and seemingly no protest was ever offered. 
This magazine, however, appears not to have been 
considered worthy of preservation, for there are very 
few copies now in existence, the only one I know of 
being in the possession of Mr. Horace Bleackley. 

The next detailed account of Dorothy Bland was 
considerably later, when between the years 1826 and 
1831 Sir Jonah Barrington published the story of her 
death as well as many reminiscences of her in his 
volumes of Personal Sketches. James Boaden's long 
and rambling Life of the actress up to the present 
regarded as the standard biography was written in 
1830, and was quickly followed by that peculiar and 
most interesting publication The Great Illegitimates, 
a collection not only of personal reminiscences, but of 
much that had appeared in the daily papers, as well 
as the usual biographical items. This book, which is 
now extremely rare and not to be found either in the 
British Museum or the London Library, but of which 
I know of two copies, one in the library of Mr. Broadley 
and one in that of Mr. J. Franklin Fuller, was styled 
on its front page " The Great Illegitimates. The 

Dorothy's Family 19 

public and private life of that celebrated actress, Miss 
Bland, otherwise Mrs. Ford or Mrs. Jordan, late mis- 
tress of H.R.H. Duke of Clarence, now King William 
IV, founder of the Fitzclarence family; delineating 
the vicissitudes attendant on her early life, the splen- 
dour of her noon-tide blaze as mistress of the Royal 
Duke, and her untimely dissolution at St. Cloud, near 
Paris resulting from a broken heart." This, accom- 
panied by numerous remarks and anecdotes of illus- 
trious and fashionable characters, was written by a 
" confidential friend of the departed." 

There have been various guesses as to who the 
confidential friend could have been, but it is possible 
that the outspoken book is the anonymous work of 
Robert Huish, for a great part of it is included as 
original matter in his History of the Life and Reign 
of William IV, published in 1837. It has been sug- 
gested that Boaden wrote it, but this is unthinkable, 
seeing that he is subjected to much scorn in its pages 
for his obsequiousness to royalty. 

In all these biographies the date of Dorothy's birth 
is given as 1762, 1764, or 1766, the earliest date being 
the most frequent; in all but the Elixir of Life the 
place is given as Waterf ord, or near Waterf ord. There 
was, indeed, no question raised about it even in 
Dorothy Bland's lifetime, and in spite of the excite- 
ment caused by her death in 1816, and the fiercer 
excitement raised in 1824 when her creditors were 
advertised to receive five shillings in the pound, no 
writer upon her then or subsequently tried to verify the 
statements made. 

Probably the first person who thought of doing this 
was Mr. A. M. Broadley, who, possessing many auto- 

20 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

graph letters and documents, had the registers in and 
around Waterford searched, but drew blank, and felt 
convinced that the account of Dorothy Eland's birth 
in London was correct. Mr. J. Franklin Fuller, of 
Dublin, seeking for Bland information, and also inter- 
ested in the great comedian, discovered a mass of 
evidence about Dorothy's mother's family which sets 
all doubts at rest. 

It is as well to sum up the story generally accepted 
about Mrs. Jordan's parentage and early life before 
relating the actual and authentic account. 

Her mother was Grace Philipps, one of three sisters, 
daughters of a clergyman, the Rev. Dr. Philipps. Her 
father was a Captain Bland, who possessed a small 
fortune. Being stationed in Wales, he met and fell in 
love with Grace, inducing her to fly to Dublin with him, 
where they were safely married by a Catholic priest, 
both being under age. Captain Bland was the son of 
a prominent civilian in Dublin, a doctor-at-law, who 
was extremely angry when he found that his son had 
married an actress (for Grace acted on the Dublin 
stage) and still more angry when that son took to the 
stage himself. To show his displeasure he stopped all 
supplies, and reduced the young people to great diffi- 
culties. However, they had many years' happiness 
together, and were blessed with nine children; after 
which Dr. Bland caused the marriage to be annulled 
on the plea that it was contracted in nonage and with- 
out his consent. Captain Bland then left his wife 
and family and married " a nymph who adored him," 
and who also possessed much money; but he there- 
upon " endured agonies of conscience which no riches 
could deaden, and sank into an early grave, the victim 

Dorothy's Family 21 

of his own heartlessness." As long as he lived Cap- 
tain Bland sent some of his new wife's money to his 
family, but at his death they were left destitute, until 
at last, to quote the style of the sentimental thirties, 
" actuated by sentiments of common humanity, his 
relatives afforded some relief to the offspring, but 
totally abandoned the wretched mother to her fate." 

The account in the Elixir of Life does not give 
Bland military rank and does not mention a second 
marriage, but states that after some years of happy 
life together Bland, having a long and expensive ill- 
ness, was sent to the south of France, but returned 
home to Wales to die; Grace, for her part, being so 
occupied with the cares of her family that she devoted 
her time exclusively to it. This account was probably 
inspired by Dorothy, that she might not only shield 
her mother, but herself from the charge of illegitimacy. 
Joseph Knight, in the Dictionary of National 
Biography, says that the Elixir gives an untrust- 
worthy account of her life; the story of the death of 
Bland was certainly not altogether true, but in other 
respects it was more trustworthy than all the other 
accounts put together. Mr. Knight also believed that 
Dorothy's father was merely a stage underling, and 
that he was a scene-shifter at Cork when Dorothy was 
acting there in 1778, a supposition based on a curious 
error of identity which will be explained in its place. 
Other accounts also ignore the statement in the Elixir 
that Francis Bland was well connected, being cousin 
to General James Johnston and to Sir Francis Lumm, 
a statement which was quite true. 

On the father's death the date is not given Mrs. 
Bland was in Dublin, her two daughters being engaged 

22 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

in a milliner's shop in Dame Street, and eventually 
Dolly went on the stage. The number of Dorothy's 
brothers and sisters are variously estimated as four, 
five and eight, the last being the favourite number, 
though only two definitely appear in the published 
histories and fragments about her life. In face of all 
these vague and conflicting statements it is a satis- 
faction to sift the false from the true, fill up gaps, 
give an account of the families both of father and 
mother, of the exact time and place of her birth, sweep 
away the mysteries which have been said to envelop 
her origin and later movements, the quarrel with the 
Duke and her death, even to supply at least another 
and perhaps more exact reason for the assumption of 
the name of Jordan. 

The following is the true account of her origin 
Dorothy was of gentle birth on both sides, her 
mother being one of the three daughters of the Rev. 
Philipps of Carmarthenshire probably Richard 
son of the Rev. Scuddamore Philipps of Kiffig, who 
entered Jesus College, Oxford, in 1702. 

One of the Philipps sisters, who was named 
Blanch Scuddamore Philipps, married a man named 
Thomas Williams, of Trelethyn, a village in the west 
of Wales, two miles from St. David's. The Rev. 
[? Richard] Philipps may have had a living there or at 
St. Davids, for exact knowledge as to his domicile is 
wanting. But if he lived there with his daughters at 
the western extremity of Wales, whence on fine days 
the Wicklow hills can be dimly seen, it is curious to 
think that a straight line drawn thence to the west of 
Ireland would almost have passed over the house near 
the western extremity of that country where dwelt the 

Dorothy's Family 23 

lad who was to bring the second daughter, Grace, both 
happiness and misery. In Derryquin Castle, near 
Sneem, on the estuary of the Kenmare River, the 
Atlantic waves washing the edges of its lawns, Francis 
Bland, a beautiful if not a clever boy, was growing up 
to manhood. These girls from the west of Wales 
and this boy from the west of Ireland were to meet in 
Dublin, a meeting which was on both sides brought 
about by the positions of the fathers of the young 

A clergyman's life in a country place in the middle 
of the eighteenth century was not altogether enviable, 
and so the three daughters of the Rev. Mr. Philipps 
determined that they had a choice between work and 
poverty. Most girls would have accepted the lesson 
taught them that their work lay at home, and that they 
were destined to welcome both it and poverty. But 
by some strange influence these girls had become 
stage-struck, which was probably a sore grief to their 
father, for an actor then had no status higher than that 
of a strolling player and vagabond. 

It seems as though the eldest girl tried a flight in 
London first, as a Miss Philipps was acting Zara 
in a play of that name in the season of 1755-6 at 
Covent .Garden when Thomas Sheridan was there, and 
he, perhaps, engaged her to go to his theatre in Dublin 
when he re-opened it in the autumn of 1756. In any 
case, two or three the number is variously given of 
the Philipps sisters appeared there then, with the 
record of being determined to act together, and of 
being able to supplement each other's parts. Hitch- 
cock, the historian of the Irish stage, described them 
as ladies who had received a finished and accomp- 

24 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

lished education. He asserts in one place that one 
married an actor named Usher, but this seems wrong, 
as all three can be accounted for. Blanch eventually 
married Williams, and lived at Trelethyn for the rest 
of her life. Another, Miss M. Philipps I have 
adopted the family way of spelling the name did not 
marry at all, but continued acting; the other, generally 
regarded as the second sister, Grace, became in course 
of time the mother of Dorothy Bland, Mrs. Jordan. 

At this time a man of great importance in Dublin 
city was Judge Nathaniel Bland, for he was not only 
a man of wealth and estate, but one of great attain- 
ment as well as of great family, by which I do not 
simply mean rich and powerful, but rather that it was 
a family so prolific, so skilled and so energetic that 
it made itself felt through centuries both in Eng- 
land, Ireland and America. The name of Bland was 
taken from Bland's Gill, a hamlet in the parish of 
Sedbergh in the north of Yorkshire, where the Blands 
long lived, and from the beginning of the fourteenth 
century the family doings are recorded. 

In 1303 a Bland was Mayor of London, and in the 
same century Patricius de Bland of Yorkshire fur- 
nished men to the king for expeditions against the 
Scots. In 1557 a John Bland brought to England the 
first intimation of the Spanish preparations for the 
Armada, and from Sedbergh came the learned and 
pious John Bland, M.A., Rector of Adisham in Kent, 
who with three others suffered martyrdom by burning 
at Canterbury in 1555. In 1560 one Adam Bland was 
appointed Sergeant Skinner to Queen Elizabeth; two 
hundred years later a Mary Bland was the grand- 
mother of Lord Nelson, while Dean Bland was a 



Dorothy's Family 25 

figure in elegant literature as well as provost of Eton 
in the early eighteenth century. 

When Henry Viscount Sydney became Lord 
Lieutenant of Ireland in 1692 he took with him as 
chaplain James Bland, a descendant of the old family 
stock, gave him the vicarage of Killarney and succes- 
sively appointed him Archdeacon of Aghadoe and 
Dean of Ardfert This Bland married Lucy, the 
daughter of Sir Francis Brewster, who held large 
forfeited estates in Kerry. 

This James Bland begat two sons and three 
daughters, the eldest of whom was Francis, who 
became the Vicar of Killarney after his father; the 
second, Nathaniel, was born in 1702, and the daughters 
were Lucy, Dorothea and Hester, a triad of names 
which appears again and again in the Bland family; 
one of these was grandmother to Lord Napier, the 
conqueror of Scind. 

But Nathaniel was the person of importance in this 
generation, his great capacities bringing him honours, 
even in his own country. In time he became a doctor- 
at-law, held the Metropolitan Seal at Dublin, sitting 
in that city as Judge in the Prerogative Court, and 
he purchased Derryquin Castle, a beautiful house, 
whether viewed from the sea or seen on the land side, 
with its ivy covered and turreted walls. He married 
twice : first with Diana Kemeys of Dublin, by whom 
he had two sons, John and James, the elder of whom 
he designed for the bar and the younger for the 
Church. His second wife was Elizabeth Heaton 
(wrongly named Lucy in Carlisle's genealogy) of 
Mount Heaton, and by her he had three sons and three 
daughters, the eldest son of this family being named 

26 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Francis and the second Nathaniel, the daughters being 
again Lucy, Hester and Dorothy. 

Though Nathaniel the elder had most generously 
fulfilled all the hopes which his parents had enter- 
tained concerning him, he was not to be so happy in 
his own children ; yet at first he had great pleasure in 
his eldest son John, of whose early life I must give a 
slight sketch, because it has often been confused with 
that of his young half-brother Francis, as in Actors of 
the Century ', by Frederick Whyte; because his doings 
had a distinct influence on Dorothy's father and 
because from time to time his name reappears in this 

John Bland inherited all his father's quickness and 
cleverness, but this was- accompanied by too great a 
versatility, too much good humour, and a love of life 
too widely spread. Destined for the bar he was 
admitted at Lincoln's Inn early in 1741, but in March 
of the same year threw up his profession and 
entered the army, his enthusiasm being such that, 
though nearly twenty years old, he became cornet in 
Eland's Regiment of Dragoons, commanded by his 
kinsman, General Humphry Bland. He carried the 
colours in the battle of Dettingen and fought at 
Fontenoy, being taken prisoner. On his escape he 
joined, under General Honeywood, in the suppression 
of the Scottish Rebellion of 1745 at Clifton Moor. 

While in Scotland, or perhaps earlier, Bland became 
friendly with a young man known as West Digges, 
supposed to be the illegitimate son of John West, Earl 
de la Warr, who was stationed there with his regiment. 
Digges later left the army, probably because of an 
accumulation of debt, and in 1749 appeared in Sheri- 

Dorothy's Family 27 

dan's company on the Dublin stage. Here the young 
men may have met again, in any case John Bland 
suddenly took to the stage, and West Digges was 
regarded as the tempter. 

This was a terrific blow to Dr. Bland, one which 
not only injured his pride, but overturned all the hopes 
he had entertained of his brilliant but erratic son. 
Could it be possible that a brave soldier, a clever 
lawyer, the heir to Derryquin Castle and its lands, 
above all, the son of Dr. Nathaniel Bland, one of the 
most considerable men in Dublin, could stoop so low 
as to strut and prance upon the boards for the amuse- 
ment of the public ? Was it thinkable that such could 
become a strolling player, a mere vagabond in the 
eyes of the law? 

Whatever arguments or entreaties were used, John 
stuck to his point, and actually had the temerity to 
appear on the stage as Polydore in The Or-phan at 
Covent Garden on the I7th of October, 1751. He 
was not a success, though he certainly had no fair 
trial, for Carlisle * said that " he was hissed off by the 
merited indignation of his father's friends. 55 

Then the deepest penalty of the family anger was 
inflicted : banishment from his father's house, loss 
of his allowance, total disinheritance, for Derryquin 
Castle was not entailed; and greatest vengeance of 
all his very name was erased from all further editions 
of Burke's Landed Gentry. Carlisle mentions and 
gives some particulars of him, but even he does not 
think it worth while to state whether he married or had 

1 Collections for the History of the Ancient Family of Bland^ by 
Nicholas Carlisle. 

28 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Yet he did marry, though it is not known when or 
whom, but he called his wife Nancy, and she either 
was at the time of her marriage an actress or became 
one later. John Bland had several children, and 
through these sons and daughters he was progenitor 
of an army of actors, musicians and composers (such 
as William Howard Glover) and soldiers. Many of 
the latter among them the Angelos served with dis- 
tinction in India; while the Indian Mutiny, the Afghan 
War and the South African War each claimed toll of 
his blood. In face of this what a childish act it was 
to erase his name from a printed book ! 

But Dr. Nathaniel Bland resolutely shut his son 
John out of his life, and bequeathed Derryquin Castle 
to his second son, James the clergyman : his resent- 
ment and anger being, one would think, sufficient to 
frighten his other sons from ever even remembering 
that there was any charm about the stage. Yet this 
was not so, for his third son Francis followed his 
step-brother John's example. 

However, there was a difference in procedure. 
Francis did not hurry to disport himself before the 
public, he began by frequenting the theatre and 
watching pretty Grace Philipps every night. 

The various biographers place the meeting between 
Grace and Francis in Wales, but the former left that 
country in 1756, and the love affair did not develop 
to any purpose until two years later, when Francis 
Bland was twenty-two or twenty-three years of age. 

By that date the two young people had fallen hope- 
lessly in love, so hopelessly that Francis forgot his 
filial duty, forgot the fate of his brother, and forgot 
the havoc he might work in his family. Then it was 

Dorothy's Family 29 

given out among the theatrical people that these two 
lovers were married, and Grace became known as 
Mrs. Francis, not as Mrs. Bland. 

Francis Bland was a tall, good-looking man, 
pleasant and kindly in manner, but never regarded 
as clever. One biographer lamented that he was not 
endowed with mental as well as personal attractions, 
for though his appearance was " stately and comely," 
his mind was " corrupt and depraved." But Francis 
Bland's portrait * does not bear this out, and we must 
judge the writer to be prejudiced by his sympathy for 

Much as I should like to prove that Francis and 
Grace were man and wife by law as well as by natural 
fact, it is beyond my powers. There is no legal proof 
anywhere of the marriage or of its annulment, and if 
there had been proof would Grace Bland not have 
made a fight for the recognition of her children when 
their father died? 

It was in 1758 that the union took place, and in 
1759, when two of the Philipps sisters seem to have 
been absent from Dublin, Grace's first child was born, 
receiving the name of Hester; who seemingly grew to 
resemble her father both in good looks and in an 
inability to make her own way in the world. 

That Judge Bland found out the whole affair is 
evident, that he was very angry is also certain, but as 
Francis had not committed the final sin of making his 
marriage legal there was some palliation. Yet the 
rupture was bitter between father and son, and neither 
would give way. Francis is said to have lost his 
allowance, and in consequence to have taken to the 

1 Unfortunately the miniature could not satisfactorily be reproduced. 

30 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

stage, and by so doing he put the seal on his father's 
anger. Then in October 1760 the Judge died at 
Currens, his will being proved on the 24th of that 

It is impossible not to be sorry for this proud man 
who had won success for himself, and yet had found 
such bitter disappointment in his two sons; it may 
even be that the trouble with Francis accelerated his 
end, for he was not turned sixty when he died. 

Through the spring and autumn of 1760 two of the 
Philipps sisters were acting at Smock Alley Theatre, 
but in October as Hitchcock says " the two Miss 
Philipps, with several of less note, returned to 

What would have been the natural thing for Francis 
Bland to have done in these circumstances? He 
was banished from his mother's home and execrated 
by his family; he may have been without the means 
of earning his living, though this is a disputed point, 
and he had a wife and child to claim his attention. 
It is impossible to judge otherwise than that he 
accompanied Grace to England, and definitely threw 
in his lot with hers. 



" Oh, what a simpleton am I 

To make my bed at such a rate ! 
Now lay me down, vain fool, and cry, 
The true love seeks another mate. 
No tears, alack, 
Will call him back, 
No tender words his heart allure; 
I could bite 

My tongue, through spite, 
Some plague bewitched me, that's for sure." 

Sung by Dorothy Bland in Dublin. 

IT is very possible that in London, that Mecca of 
the distressed, Francis knew that he should find his 
brother John, to whom he would now be doubly drawn 
by his similarity of fortune, and he might even have 
chosen his home that he might be near him. For 
John Bland was in London at this time, and a little 
later was living with West Digges in St. James's 
Sanctuary, which was probably the remnant of some 
street near the palace which in early times had served 
as a real sanctuary. 

Francis and Grace seem to have settled down in 
St. Martin's parish, near the theatres, for there the 
second child was born, and there I found proofs of its 
birth. In the register of the Church of St. Martin's- 
in-the-Fields is this crisp line 

Dec. 5, 1761. [Baptized] Dorothy Bland, [daughter] 
of Francis and Grace [Bland, born] Nov. 22. 

Thus the doubt about the date of Mrs. Jordan's 


32 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

birth is settled. It was in 1761, a year earlier than all 
the accounts allow, and several years earlier than some 
give. Her name is also proved to have been neither 
Dorothea nor Dora, but Dorothy, though she used 
both the former names in signing letters. 

There were two other entries in the same year's 
register, which might have been mere coincidences, 
and yet, on the other hand, might supply evidence 
could the links be traced. One ran as follows 

Nov. 12, 1761. [Baptized] John Bland [son] of 
John and Mary [Bland, born] Oct. 26. 

Now John Bland, who probably did not marry until 
he took to the stage (that is, after 1749), had a son 
John, and this entry may indicate the birth of that 
son. But he called his wife Nancy, and as Nancy 
she was named in the notices of his death in 1808. 
However, Nancy may have been a pet name, and the 
two babies may have been cousins born within a month 
of each other, or they may have been the most distant 
and unknown relatives who never met. 

The third entry belongs to a later period in the 

Here in London the young people already had a 
circle of friends in John Bland and his family, West 
Digges, Grace's sister, and to these may be added 
Francis Lumm, the son of Francis Bland's aunt, who 
was always an affectionate friend to his cousin. 

Except for the recurring births of children, there 
is little by which to trace the Blands during the next 
few years, and even concerning these it is impossible 
to tell in what order the children arrived. A girl 
named Lucy was born in 1764, and died at the age of 

Dorothy's Parents 33 

fourteen, being buried at Trelethyn. A boy named 
Nathaniel was born in 1767; other members who have 
been traced are Francis and George, and, in a shadowy 
way, another girl. Thus six or seven children born 
to Francis and Grace Bland are identified. Nathaniel 
was described in his college list as son of Francis 
Bland of St. Oswald's, Chester (City), and it is not 
unlikely that he was born there, as Chester was a usual 
halting-place between Dublin and London. 

Whether Francis Bland was a captain in the army 
is difficult to determine. His portrait, taken from a 
miniature, looks more like that of a genial actor; but, 
as he is wearing a green uniform with yellow froggings, 
he may have been a soldier. The Morning Chronicle 
of October 27, 1788, reported him as having com- 
manded a company on the Irish establishment " while 
he lived," implying that he remained in command 
until his death; but it is not unlikely that he went on 
half pay and adopted his wife's profession. The 
Blands seem not to have lived in Wales, as reported 
by the Elixir of Life, for in a private letter from a 
member of the family is the following statement 

" During a rebellion in Ireland Mrs. Bland brought 
her children to St. Davids and resided here for a while, 
her husband going to the south of France to his father. 
When he returned she joined him, leaving Lucy (her 
little daughter) with her sister (Mrs. Williams)." 
Francis's father had, however, long been dead, and 
the journey to France must have been in search of 
health. His illness would have been sufficient reason 
for a reconciliation with his mother, and he may have 
gone from France to his old home, where he may 
have met the rich Catherine Mahoney, who fell in love 

34 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

with him, for she lived at Killarney. That he came 
back restored to health seems probable, for his friend- 
ship with Miss Mahoney ended in their marriage on 
May 17, 1774, not at Killarney but at St. Botolph's 
Without, Aldgate. Thus, when Grace left St. Davids 
to rejoin her husband, as her relatives thought, she 
may have met him only to separate for ever, and to 
face a life of hardship and poverty, with some of 
her children on her hands. That the Welsh records 
entirely ignore some of her children, while other 
accounts ignore others, seems to prove that from the 
first Francis Bland made himself responsible for 
some, while some were left to their mother's care. 

As for Francis, his health soon failed again, and if 
this failure was, as Boaden asserts, caused by remorse 
for his irrevocable treachery, it shows that something 
good still lived in his soul. Once again he started for 
France, but he only got as far as Dover when death 
seized him. His cousin Sir Francis Lumm, then 
Governor of Ross Castle, had his body taken home to 
Killarney for burial, and put up a slab to his memory 
in the church there, the inscription upon it being 

' To the memory of a once much loved and much 
lamented friend, Francis Bland, Esq., on whose kind 
heart, in his forty-third year, at Dover, on the second 
day of January, 1778, the curtain of this world's stage 
untimely dropped, this stone is placed by Sir F. L., Bt." 

Francis left by Catherine two children, a son Francis 
his second of that name and both living and a 
daughter Frances. Was it lack of heart or want of 
firmness that made him call Catherine's boy by the 
name of Grace's son ? 

Dorothy's Parents 35 

There is nothing but mere assertion to show that 
Grace and Francis were safely married by a Catholic 
priest, or that that marriage was annulled; and indeed 
Judge Bland could not have procured the annulment, 
as he died in 1760, when only one child, Hester, had 
been born, and before the birth of five or six other 
children. In addition to this, Francis was not under 
age when the marriage is said to have taken place. 

After Francis Eland's death administration was 
granted to his wife Catherine, who swore to the place 
and date of their marriage, adding that "both were 
free from all marriages or matrimonial contracts what- 
soever save to each other." Of course this proves 
nothing; Catherine may not have known of a former 
legal marriage, and, if she did and yet married him 
herself, she would have lied rather than tell the fact. 

But the matter that seems to offer conclusive evi- 
dence is that if there had been a marriage Grace Bland 
would have fought for her children's position in the 
world. As a matter of fact she did make an effort, 
for a " pretended claim " was put in either by or for 
Nathaniel Bland. As the boy was then only eleven 
years old, the claim must have been made for him 
by " his next friend," as the legal phrase goes, perhaps 
his mother. This claim was disallowed, probably 
because the widow pleaded his illegitimacy, as she 
would have been sure to do. 

Grace's sojourn in Wales may have synchronized 
with the period when Francis was married to Catherine 
Mahoney, but, if so, she and her relatives kept his 
treachery secret, for the succeeding generation did not 
know all the incidents. Then, on hearing of Francis's 
death, she may have returned to Dublin with some of 

36 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

her children, the two eldest girls and Nathaniel, and 
put in this claim on behalf of her son. The material 
consequences of her loss must have fallen upon her 
now, for the mental anguish of her husband's defection 
had long been deadened. While he lived he had 
provided for that large family which had been banished 
from his life, but his care of them could not extend 
beyond his death, for the money was Catherine's, and 
not his, and she turned her back utterly upon her 
husband's first family. However, other relatives, 
perhaps his mother or his half-brother James, were 
induced it has been said to afford some relief to 
the offspring, while totally abandoning " the wretched 
mother to her fate." Not that the " wretched mother " 
had any intention of being abandoned to any fate, for 
though she was not like the fox, who had a hundred 
ways of eluding the dogs of sport and death, she some- 
what shared the quality of the cat who knew at least 
one safe way. She had acted on the stage with 
success, and she had a daughter Hester in the first 
bloom of womanhood, handsome and accomplished, 
able to dance, play, and speak French who had, in 
fact, been more or less prepared for a theatrical career. 
Grace was probably training this girl for the stage 
during those years of loneliness, and if she went back 
to Ireland early in 1778, she did not there remain help- 
less or idle. She made, or caused to be made, the 
claim on behalf of her son; she must have worried the 
Bland family by her demands, and she seems promptly 
to have put her two daughters to work in a milliner's 
shop in Dame Street. One theatrical chronicle says 
that they were working there in 1776, another puts it 
later, others ignore it altogether. Indeed, among all 

Dorothy's Parents 37 

the accounts of Dorothy's life, when as a girl of 
eighteen she first went on the stage, it is difficult to 
find the true one, so contradictory are they. The 
certain thing is that Grace was not in Wales in 1778, 
for it was then, on May 4, that her daughter Lucy, a 
girl of fourteen, died at Trelethyn, just four months 
after her father's death. Mrs. Williams, thus left 
without a child in her house, adopted Nathaniel as her 
son, sending to Ireland for him. Where some of Mrs. 
Eland's children were placed cannot be said, but she 
evidently then caused another son to come to share her 
lot, as she had a boy with her in 1782, who must have 
been George, for he had a good voice and was one of 
the choir boys in St. Patrick's Cathedral. In later 
years one of George's qualifications for the stage was 
his ability for taking part in opera. 

There must have been something too repressive in 
Judge Eland's training of his sons, as his fourth boy 
Nathaniel (each generation included this name), next 
brother to Francis, also kicked over the traces, and 
lived away from home. At some period he made him- 
self responsible for his dead brother's boy Francis, 
perhaps sending him to school from the first. 

One of the most romantic accounts of Dorothy's 
introduction upon the stage is given by Joseph Dowling, 
who, more than fifty years later, published his reminis- 
cences under the name of J. D. Herbert, giving them 
the title of Irish Varieties for the Last Fifty Years. 
There were many mistakes in this story, and probably 
the old man's memory played tricks, softening here, 
embroidering there, but some basis of truth there 
must have been. 

Herbert says that, on returning from a bathe one fine 

38 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

summer's day in 1780, he was accosted on the Pigeon 
House Wall by a lad of about fourteen, who carried 
a handkerchief bundle, and who told him that he had 
just landed from Wales with his mother and two 
sisters, they being strangers to Dublin; he then drew 
Herbert towards the ladies, whom he found handsome 
and interesting, and who told him that they wanted 
comfortable but not expensive lodgings. The upshot 
was that they walked into Dublin together, and 
Herbert found them lodgings in South Great George 
Street, three doors away from where he himself lived, 
making good terms for them. 

Grace Bland told the boy that her name was Francis, 
that she had been an actress, but had married a 
captain in the army who was on half-pay, and that her 
husband had died in Wales, where they had lived for 
economy's sake; and that now, having cut herself adrift 
from the stage, she could not support herself and her 
children on the allowance made to a captain's widow, 
and so was obliged once more to turn to acting. 

The family of four settled down in South Great 
George Street, and Mrs. Francis being furnished with 
a letter of introduction to Ryder, the manager of 
Crow Street Theatre, waited to hear from him. The 
name of " Grace Philipps J> alone would have been 
sufficient to cause Ryder to give her an interview, for 
they had acted together twenty years earlier, but that 
was probably her way of explaining the matter. He 
came, saw Hester, the elder girl, found her able to 
play, sing and do other theatre tricks, and engaged her, 
hoping that he had found a treasure. Then he billed 
her well and waited for the fateful night to arrive. 
The house was filled with a cheerful audience ready to 

Dorothy's Parents 39 

see and encourage a new and pretty actress, but to 
every one's horror, most of all to her own, poor Miss 
Francis was afflicted with such an acute attack of stage 
fright that she could not utter a word. No happy flash 
of memory or confidence came to her assistance, and 
she had to be led off the stage by the chagrined 
manager, while some one else took her place. Young 
Herbert, then only a boy, was present next morning 
when Ryder went to see Mrs. Bland, and, finding her 
crying, told her that she should have a part at the 
salary he had offered her daughter, and that if she 
would for a time go into the country towns to get once 
more accustomed to the boards, he would try the 
second girl Dorothy in place of her sister. 

"Oh!" replied the mother, "Dolly would be no 
use at acting, she is but a tomboy; it was only just 
before you came in that she was jumping downstairs, 
and boasting that she could jump one step more than 
either of the boys dared attempt. Then, too, she is 
so untidy why, even her stockings are down to her 

" But, my dear madam, she will mend ; she will grow 
older," interposed Ryder. 

"Yes, but see how plain she is, with smallpox 
spoiling her skin." 

" The stage will hide such trifling blemishes," was 
the optimistic retort. 

Dolly had been sent out of the room to make herself 
tidy, and at this minute she came back, looking quite 
neat and smart. Ryder, gazing well into her face, 
said, with a laugh 

" Smallpox, aye, and very small too ! Here, Dolly, 
get up the part of Phoebe in As You Like It" 

40 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Dolly was neither bashful nor bold ; she was indeed 
thoughtless enough and high-spirited enough to do a 
thing without troubling about responsibilities or conse- 
quences; so she got up the part and went through it 
in public with the happy carelessness of a schoolboy, 
whatever the terrors might have been that she experi- 
enced at the first sight of the audience. That audience 
accepted her with good humour, but saw no occasion 
to be overwhelming in its praise, and indeed its atten- 
tion was more likely concentrated upon the prominent 
actors. However, she had found her metier y she felt 
that she could act, and she studied without ceasing 
to acquire the qualities necessary to help her to 

The 'definite assertions in this story are [wrong. 
Thus the Elands were in Dublin long before 1780; 
if Hester made such a terrible failure on her introduc- 
tion, she somewhat retrieved it, for she was acting in 
that year ; then there is no trace in any theatrical record 
of Grace acting anywhere, and Dorothy did not begin 
her stage career as Phoebe. Her first appearance was 
in The Virgin Unmasked, on the 3rd of November, 
I779. 1 As You Like It was put on later in November, 
and Dorothy may have taken the part then, but it was 
not her first attempt. The first playbill now existing 
which includes her name is one dated May 20, 
1780, when The Governess was acted for O'Keefe's 

At that time Ryder was at his wit's end to provide 
variety and draw an audience, so in this play he hit 
on the plan of a topsy-turvy cast men taking women's 

1 Mr. W. J. Lawrence, who is one of our first authorities upon the 
British stage. 

Dorothy's Parents 41 

parts and vice versa Dorothy being allotted the 
prominent character of Lopez, and gaining great 
applause for her symmetrical figure and beautiful legs. 
Before she had been acting long she persuaded Ryder 
to let her introduce a song, and this brought her into 
especial favour. Her voice was not highly trained 
and did not go well with accompaniment; but it was 
so sweet, and she had already so mastered the art of 
throwing her emotions into her tones, that a song 
from her would often have to be repeated twice to a 
delighted audience. Her first and one of her most 
famous songs was that of " Melton Oysters," which 
was especially popular in Dublin, as its title was 
deemed to be " Miltown Oysters " Miltown being a 
suburb of Dublin, near Donnybrook Fair, a spot 
historic as a recreation and sporting resort, where 
refreshments of all sorts, from goat's milk to whisky, 
and from buns to oysters might be obtained by the 
holiday-making people. This song she persuaded 
Ryder to let her introduce, and however dubious was 
his consent, the result was extremely pleasing to him. 
Its first verse ran 

"There was a clever, likely lass, 

Just come to town from Glos'ter, 
And she did get her livelihood 
By crying Melton Oysters." 

The one farcical comedy part which Dolly essayed 
in Ireland was Miss Tomboy in The Romp, the only 
hoyden character which she acted at that early stage 
of her career, for the value of those plays had not yet 
become apparent, the audience even then considering 
tragedy more enjoyable than farce. 

Another thing that the girl did particularly well was 

42 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

speaking the prologue and epilogue, which have long 
been discarded from our evening's amusement at the 
theatre; so a special prologue was written for her in 
the character of an Irish Volunteer, for which she had 
to wear the soldier's uniform and strut about the stage 
with martial weapons a proceeding which drew shouts 
of applause from the young folks of Dublin. 

But Ryder at that time was fast going downhill, and 
his actors were not always paid, so Dolly and her 
family sometimes "experienced the severest effects 
of poverty"; and according to Walker's Hibernian 
Magazine for August 1792, "Prudence obliged Mrs. 
Francis to forsake the Crow Street standard " and go 
over to Smock Alley, where she got an engagement 
from its new manager Daly, and though the salary 
was low, yet it was punctually paid, which at least 
allowed them to live. 

Dorothy made a great impression upon some people 
while in Ireland; one of whom was Betsy Sheridan, 
later Mrs. Lefanu. One night she took a Mr. Cham- 
berlayne to the theatre, and, pointing to Dorothy, 

' That little girl, if she lives, will be some time or 
other the first comic actress in England or Ireland. 
She is a Miss Francis. She has not been long on 
the stage, but for chastity of acting, naivete, and being 
the character she represents, young as she is, she 
surpasses what could have been expected; but mark 
my words, she will one day or other be a favourite 
and the first in her line of acting." 

Mr. Chamberlayne wrote down these words and 
sealed them in an envelope, which eventually passed 
into the possession of the Editor of the Gentleman's 

Dorothy's Parents 43 

Magazine. The envelope was not opened until 1822, 
and its contents were published in June 1824. 

It is open to doubt whether there was any time in 
her life when Dolly Bland was serenely, quietly and 
safely happy, when she could " look before and after " 
and see happiness both ways. Such a time could not 
have come to her in Dublin, and it certainly was not 
hers in the next stage of her career. Yet it may be 
that it seemed always within her reach, for she was 
not given to retrospection or anticipation. For her, 
to-day was the point of life, and if all were well or 
ill to-day, why gloat or worry over past or future. It 
was, however, a good thing that she could not forecast 
events; that she could struggle on more or less gaily 
and not ask too minutely what price was eventually 
to be paid at the Dublin theatre for the best woman's 

One curious mistake which was made about Dorothy 
was by a young soldier named Pryse Lockhart 
Gordon, one which he crystallized in his volume of 
Personal Memoirs many years later, and which has 
without fail been copied by each successive biographer 
of Dorothy Bland. 

With one exception, she acted in Dublin as Miss 
Francis, and events point to the fact that the Blands 
must have made it a condition of their assistance that 
their name should be dropped. Mr. Gordon, however, 
declares that when he was stationed in Cork in 1778 
" Miss Phillips " was taken there by Daly, and acted 
for i a week, for which sum her father, a scene- 
shifter, threw in his services. The girl's benefit was 
a failure, and the group of young men, of whom 
Gordon was one, threatened violence until the manager 

44 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

promised her another benefit night, which was well 
attended, bringing the young actress ^40. 

This account has caused one of the " mysteries " of 
Dorothy's birth, and, as has been said, The Dictionary 
of National Biography favours this statement as to 
the low origin of Dorothy's father. But Pryse Lock- 
hart Gordon, as military records prove, went to Cork 
in 1778, and left Cork for foreign service in 1780; 
while Dolly Francis's first visit to that city was in 
1781, and she never acted anywhere under the name 
of Phillips. Mr. W. J. Lawrence, in his interest 
concerning the stage, made special investigations into 
this matter, and he discovered that there was a Miss 
Phillips acting in Cork in the year 1778 whose father 
was at the time a scene-shifter, but who had no con- 
nection with our heroine. This Miss Phillips was two 
years younger than Dorothy, and gained great renown 
later as Mrs. Crouch, acting at Drury Lane, and not 
only becoming a bitter rival to our heroine, but at 
times causing her much unhappiness. 

Herbert unconsciously gives evidence of Dorothy's 
being in Cork in 1781, for he tells that when visiting 
some friends there the next year he heard a little 
musical prodigy singing a song about her love for 
Ti-co-thy, and, on asking how she had learnt it, was 
told that a lady named Francis, who had been acting 
there the previous summer, had taught it to the child. 

It is to be hoped that at last the lie has been over- 
taken, but one never knows ; a romantic lie is dear to 
the imagination, and is not given up without a pang. 

Another incident, and one of a tender nature, took 
place also at this time, it being twisted somewhat out 
of shape by Sir Jonah Barrington in his account of 

Dorothy's Parents 45 

Dorothy's Dublin career, and this was her first serious 
offer of marriage. 

A certain young soldier named Charles Powlett 
Doyne, son of the Dean of Leighlin, who was cornet 
in the 2nd Regiment of Horse in Dublin, fell in love 
with the attractive young actress at first sight, and felt 
that the only happiness in the world for him was to 
make her his wife. So he took counsel with his 
friends, of whom Barrington was one, and as these 
friends were also very young, they advised him to go 
in and win. B'ut the courageous cornet found that 
there were other people to consider besides Dorothy 
and himself, and that Mrs. Bland was adamant to him 
and his desires. She rightly saw that Doyne could 
not support a wife, his commission was of the smallest 
and his private fortune was little larger; she also had 
no desire to be bereft of her chief means of support, 
so however much Dorothy liked the young man, she 
was induced to give him up. 

The queer thing is that Barrington, who was on the 
scene, gives his friend wrong rank, wrong regiment 
and wrong locale, saying that he was a lieutenant of 
the 3rd Heavy Horse stationed at Waterford, and 
to this adds the slighting inference that he was ugly. 
The facts being that Doyne met, loved and lost Dolly 
in 1780 while he was a cornet stationed in Dublin; 
that he never was stationed in Waterford, though two 
years after Dorothy had left Ireland he was at 
Clonmel, which is very near. His lieutenancy was 
gained in June 1781, some months after he had left 
Dublin in a very inconsolable frame of mind. How- 
ever, in 1785 he married a Miss Vicars, who was an 
heiress, and a year later he left the army. 



" Her face, if not exactly beautiful, was irresistibly agreeable ; her 
person and gait were eminently elastic ; her voice in singing perfectly 
sweet and melodious, and in speaking clear and impressive.''' JOHN 
ADOLPHUS on Mrs. Jordan. 

* c His feathers, which in beauty vied 
With all the peacock's glittering pride, 
Were trimmed with artfulness and care 
T'attract the notice of the fair. 


IN Ryder's company at Crow Street was a man 
named Richard Daly, who by some was described as 
better as business man than as actor. Herbert says of 
him that he had a good memory, a good person, a good 
wardrobe and good parts to play, which were the 
entire constitution of his good acting ; and in Roscius, 
a short-lived paper, it was declared that his acting 
was slovenly. When he first played for Ryder it was 
with a Mrs. Lyster, once Miss Barsanti, who was 
fortunate enough to have money; she also could earn 
money, and the combination of possessions and talent 
was too much for Richard Daly, so Mrs. Lyster 
became his wife. 

This man was in one respect Irish of the Irish, for 
he loved a fight; in another he was alien to his race, 
as the Irish are renowned for their care for the honour 
of their women. He, however, was an extreme sen- 
sualist, and allowed nothing to stand in the way of 
his desires; thus as manager he became a byword in 
Dublin for his baseness and cruelty to young actresses. 


That Ruffian Daly 47 

He was a member of the Fire-eaters' Club, and 
prided himself on his bravery and his dexterity with 
sword and pistol ; his number of duels being put down 
as sixteen in two years, three with swords and thirteen 
with pistols. It was a pistol duel that he fought with 
Jonah Barrington, who affirmed that he had never 
spoken to Daly, had scarcely ever spoken of him, and 
never knew why the challenge was sent. 

Barrington and his second, known as " Balloon " 
Crosby, because he had constructed the first balloon 
ever made in Ireland, sat up all night making pistols 
from a number of odd locks, barrels and stocks. 
When they had succeeded and drunk chocolate 
followed by cherry brandy, they started out for the 
fight. Barrington thus describes his opponent's 

" He was a very fine-looking young fellow, but with 
such a squint that it was totally impossible to say what 
he looked at, except his nose, of which he never lost 
sight. His dress made me ashamed of my own; he 
wore a pea-green coat, a large tucker with a diamond 
brooch stuck in it, a three-cocked hat with a gold 
button, loop and tassels, and silk stockings, and a 
couteau-de-chasse hung gracefully at his thigh." 

This gorgeous figure made Barrington uneasy, for 
he liked neither his steady position, showy clothes nor 
his squinting eye ; but the delighted Crosby soon had 
his men in position, crying 

" Hip the macaroni ! Never look at the head or 
the heels, the hip for ever, my boy." 

As soon as Daly took his stand, about nine paces 
off, and presented his pistol, Barrington let fly, and, 
as he says, " without losing a single second and with- 

48 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

out taking aim," which is but another proof that the 
punctiliousness said to be observed at duels was on 
occasions but a sham. Daly staggered, put his hand 
to his breast, and cried, " I'm hit," without having fired 
a shot. 

The three young men gathered round, opened his 
waistcoat and found a black spot about the size of 
half-a-crown directly over his breast-bone. The 
diamond brooch had saved the macaroni's life ! a 
fragment of the trinket still sticking into the bone. 
But for the vanity of that brooch the future of Dorothy 
Bland might who knows? have been very different, 
for Daly would of a certainty have been killed. 

It is amusing to find that Barrington, who was quite 
ready to kill Daly in this foolish affair and to look 
upon the deed as an honourable achievement, was 
shocked at the sight of the diamonds sticking into 
Daly's breast-bone. Crosby, on the other hand, cursed 
and stamped over the bad powder, then laid hold of 
the jewellery and pulled it out. Daly put his handker- 
chief to his breast with a bow, Barrington returned 
a deeper bow, and so they parted, excepting that 
when the latter asked for an explanation of the 
challenge Daly replied that he would give none, for 
Rule 8 observed by Fire-eaters commanded that if a 
party challenged accepted the challenge without ask- 
ing the reason of it, the challenger was not bound to 
divulge it afterwards ! 

However, it was not to Daly's advantage to fight 
duels when he was at work, though he and Kemble 
did, in 1785, determine to take each other's lives, and 
to make sure of the deed arranged to meet in secret 
and fight their quarrel out. Kindly friends, though, 

That Ruffian Daly 49 

had warned the sheriffs and so saved both a good 
actor and a weak villain. 

But in a usual way after his youth Daly's tastes lay 
towards cards and young actresses. He would have 
been thought the last person to join a Temperance 
Club, yet he was a constant attendant at one such, 
where the only refreshments allowed were biscuits and 
water. But then it was not altogether strange that 
many of the most prominent bloods of the town were 
also members of this club, for its one purpose was 
gambling. This was the man who was to give Dorothy 
Francis her first insight into the ways of the libertine, 
and who was to awaken a lasting hatred in her heart. 
It was in 1780 that Daly, concentrating his energies 
upon an attempt to give himself a permanent and 
lucrative footing on the Dublin stage, became lessee 
of the hitherto neglected Smock Alley Theatre. One 
chronicler says that the theatre was opened by Daly on 
Wednesday, November 3, 1780, with a prelude named 
Smock Alley Secrets, or the Manager Worried. This 
may have been so, for Dorothy had joined his com- 
pany before August 1781, when they all went to 
Waterford. Oxberry, in his Reminiscences, says that 
on their return Dorothy was given a salary of 3 a 
week, which is hardly credible, seeing the poverty 
of the theatres, and the relative value of money at that 
time. When the grand opening of Smock Alley was 
made in November 1781, and Kemble was engaged, 
he only had 5 a week. However, Daly may have 
had reasons for ingratiating his little actress, and if 
Herbert is to be trusted, she had money to spare, for 
he says that she often tipped him a crown. It is to be 
supposed that the Blands were still contributing some 

5o The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

pittance to Grace, and there is evidence of strained 
feeling between the families on one occasion : the 
report being that Dorothy, angered by hearing of some 
slighting remark, with her characteristic impulsive- 
ness, had herself announced on the play-bills as Miss 
Bland, instead of Miss Francis. This lasted but a 
few days, for, moved either by threats or reassurances, 
she soon resumed the latter name. 

When Daly made his great flourish and engaged 
Kemble, that young gentleman was still but a pro- 
vincial performer, who had by no means attained to 
anything like his later celebrity, and 5 a week was 
a very good salary to him. Hamlet, The Belle's 
Stratagem, and The Count of Narbonne were played, 
the last being a piece dramatized from Walpole's 
Castle of Otranto by Jephson. Dorothy took the part 
of Adelaide in this play, and made a particular 
success; while Kemble, in this Dublin engagement, 
won such praise that his future London career was 

The exact facts about Dorothy and Daly can now 
never be known, but she must by this time have been 
well aware of the man's character, which, according 
to all the chroniclers, was that of a villain of promis- 
cuous tendencies, whatever his other virtues. 

The following severity from the pen of William 
Oxberry, the comedian, is but an example of others 

" It was the practice of this hollow sensualist to 
advance money to the ladies he had a design on, and 
then second his attempt with an arrest for debt. He 
had often recourse to brutal violence. Even now, 
when that weak villain's bones have returned to the 
corruption that best befitted them, we could find it in 
our hearts to call them from the grave to be burnt as 

That Ruffian Daly 51 

a sacrifice to offended decency ; and in saying this, we 
arrogate no particular virtue to ourselves : we do not 
mean to condemn in one sweeping clause the race 
called (falsely called) men of pleasure; but let them 
fight their battles fairly, at all events, and not win by 
meanness (or violence, should be added), that which 
should be gained by favour." 

Daly did not find it so easy with Dorothy Bland; 
she was only just twenty and, like other girls, looked 
forward to romance and happiness with some one 
whom she loved. Thus the adulterous advances made 
by him terrified her. He was coarse enough to say 
that he loved her, and this love which he gave so 
freely could have had no pretty-pretty sentiment in it, 
no honesty; it meant the enslavement of body and 
mind, rough and lewd handling, such as Mrs. Roman- 
zini, an Italian Jewess, complained of when her 
daughter of about fifteen had the misfortune to come 
under Daly's management. 

:< Vat you vant vid my daughter ? " she asked 
angrily. ' You are always running after her and 
touching her. You have one ver fine wife of your 
own, so I beg you will leave my child alone." 

Daly is said to have obeyed on that occasion ; but he 
was not always so amenable. If the actress proved 
difficult it was easy for him to change familiarity into 
threat or bribe, and if he foresaw that his chase would 
be arduous, he used a little diplomacy. These 
methods were tried upon Dorothy, seemingly without 
avail, and though there are various versions of the 
affair, all agree that it was by force rather than consent 
that the young actress was brought to submission. 

One of Daly's approved plans was deliberately to 
degrade a girl from good to inferior parts with less 

52 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

pay, and get her so thoroughly broken that the only 
escape would seem to be in his arms, and it is signi- 
ficant that Dolly's name was anything but prominent 
in the theatre during the first part of 1781. It is very 
possible, too, that during that year the family had been 
reduced to great straits, a situation which implies debt. 

When an actress had been reduced to this condition 
it was Daly's gentle plan to sympathize and offer to 
lend her a sum of money, which the poor thing had 
little choice but to accept, perhaps regarding it as 
unaffected kindness on Daly's part. 

If the girl could not be won with neglect or kindness 
Daly then had a new system of torture, and that was 
to threaten arrest for debt. In face of that what could 
a friendless young girl do, for what was a debtor's 
prison to such but a living death from which only 
real death could release her? This creature seems to 
have gone through the whole series of his little 
methods with Dorothy, and The Great Illegitimates 
affirms that Daly's loan was made after a severe illness 
on the part of Mrs. Bland, which took all their money, 
and continues that threats and cajolery all being 
unsuccessful, Daly ended with pure violence. She 
was by some means decoyed to the house of a person 
dependent upon him, and there forcibly detained, 
" until every unfair advantage had been taken of her 
defenceless situation." The Secret History and other 
accounts add that no sooner " did she escape from so 
cruel and infamous a treachery," than she " fled from 
Dublin, and accompanied by her mother went to 
Leeds." In these accounts truth lies, but the form in 
which that truth is presented varies with each writer's 
sentiments and ideas. Dorothy certainly did not flee 
from Dublin directly Daly had reduced her to his will ; 

That Ruffian Daly 53 

on the contrary, she was given very good parts, and 
continued to play at Smock Alley for some months. 
From the beginning of 1782 she acted constantly with 
Kemble, taking the parts of Adelaide in The Count 
of Narbonne, Charlotte in The Gamester, for 
Kemble's benefit; Selina to his Bajazet in Tamerlane; 
Lady Anne to his Glo'ster in Richard III ; Miss Ogle 
in Mrs. Cowley's Belle's Stratagem; Louisa in The 
Discovery, and Maria in The School for Scandal. On 
May 14 she was Katherine to Kemble's Petruchio; and 
on the 1 6th of that month she spoke the Prologue 
before Burgoyne's musical comedy, The Maid of the 

From that day she disappeared from the Dublin 
boards ! 

What could have happened then? Whatever had 
passed between her and Daly, she hated him with all 
her heart, yet she must have remained in his company 
for some months after she had surrendered her body 
to his will. It is probable that the situation had become 
too repulsive to be borne any longer, and that there 
was a desperate quarrel, in which Daly had the upper 
hand all along. He may have seen what was coming, 
and true to his treacherous nature have kept back her 
salary. In a quarrel the impulsive girl would, as was 
her wont, betray all that was in her heart without 
thought of the future ; and perhaps it was then and 
not earlier that the threat of prison unless she repaid 
the early loan descended upon her bewildered mind. 
The very idea of a debtor's prison put her into a panic, 
as it did thirty years later, and she determined to flee 
from Dublin with her family. 

Young Herbert, who was in entire ignorance of the 
reason of the flight, says that he saw them before they 

54 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

left, and knowing that they were going in poverty, 
he pressed into Dorothy's hands a little bag contain- 
ing many of the crowns which she had bestowed upon 
him, but she gave it him back, saying 

"No, I will not; if I were more distressed I would 
not touch a penny of what I had hoped you would 
have taken in good part." 

Then, forgetting herself, she proceeded to give him 
hints about acting, as she knew he wanted to become 
an actor. 

In Walker's Hibernian Magazine (1792) it is 
asserted that the fruits of "an accident began to be 
visible, and a variety of reasons pressed her imme- 
diate departure." This is scarcely probable, as her 
child was not born until six months later, and she 
could have well hidden the matter until the end of 
the season. 

However, knowing what fate awaited her before the 
end of the year, without luggage and with little money, 
Dorothy, her mother, sister and brother, fled from 
Dublin to England in June 1782. There can be no 
doubt of the girl's feelings for Daly, for no bribe or 
entreaty would induce her later to act in Dublin while 
he was there, though once he offered her a princely 
sum to help to restore something like glory to his 

It may be objected that Daly did not habitually 
pursue the system described above, and that the whole 
account was intended to shield Dorothy's name from 
lightness. But there are many proofs that he followed 
this plan of threatened imprisonment on many occa- 
sions. There was the case of the young and pretty 
Mrs. Esten, who was deserted by her husband and 
who was thus treated by Daly, having been arrested 






That Ruffian Daly 55 

at his instigation. For this he was attacked in the 
Dublin Evening Post by its proprietor-editor, Magee, 
against whom Daly had the temerity to press a libel 
suit. During the hearing of the case the following 
letter from the chivalrous Magee to the actress was 
read in Court 

"August 21, 1789. Mrs. Esten, on the immediate 
receipt fly to Mr. Edwards, bookseller, Cork. I have 
enclosed him for your use a draft on London for 
twenty guineas. Fly ! Fly ! I know you were 
arrested by a ruffian in uniform on Friday last at 
dinner. I heard of the outrage, and instantly flew to 
the bailiff's lock-up house to the Marine Hotel. 
There I learned that you were forced to Cork. 1 I 
know how you have been used by that villain, that 
ruffian Daly. Fly ! Fly ! I leave this for London 
on the ist of September; leave address at James 
Woodmason's, Leadenhall Street. Yours, J. MAGEE. 
To Mrs. Esten, Cork." 2 

In later years, when Daly got into a habit of sum- 
moning Astley for infringing the rights of his patent, 
his counsel stated that the penalties recoverable would 
be given to the Lying-in Hospital. In reply, the 
opposing counsel said : " That it was notorious no 
man in Dublin had contributed more largely, in one 
way, to the Lying-in Hospital than Mr. Daly; and it 
was therefore but fair, if he recovered in this action, 
that he should give them the cask; but," continued 
the facetious counsel, "although Mr. Daly's attach- 
ment to good pieces is proverbial, we don't choose 
that he shall monopolize all the good pieces in Dublin, 
from My Grandmother down to Miss in her Teens! 9 

1 Daly owned the Cork theatre also. 

2 A Curious Genealogical Medley, by J. F. Fuller, F.S.A. 



" Just emblem of all lovely nature, 
Ordain'd to charm by ev'ry feature, 
Reigning unrivall'd in thy art, 
Delight of ev'ry feeling heart ; 
Applause await and crown thy wishes, 
Nations accord, ' She all possesses ! ' " 

"My acquaintances are so censorious (oh, 'tis a wicked censorious 
world, Mr. Homer !), I say, are so censorious, and detracting, that 
perhaps they'll talk to the prejudice of my honour." The Country 

TATE WILKINSON had become renowned in the 
theatrical world by 1782 more by his powers of 
mimicry than by his acting, and still more by his 
remarkable energy in organizing the work of several 
theatres at once. He first appeared on the stage in 
Dublin in 1757, when in the old Aungier Street 
Theatre he acted with Grace Philipps. Later he 
became known as the lessee and manager of the York, 
Leeds and Hull theatres, and he also took companies 
to Doncaster, Wakefield, Sheffield and other towns in 
Yorkshire. In addition to this he from time to time 
acted in many of the provincial towns, and even in 
Covent Garden, thus earning for himself the title of 
" The Wandering Patentee." In the eyes of the law 
actors were but strolling vagabonds, in the eyes of the 
public they were the public's most obliged and 
obedient servants, ready meekly to apologize if they 
failed to please, and were expected to look upon it as 
but justice if their property were wrecked by an ill- 


'It! The Great Treasure" 57 

mannered mob; in the eyes of society the best actor 
was not fit to tie the shoelace of a gentleman nor to call 
himself a gentleman. Tate Wilkinson, however, was 
the son of a Doctor of Divinity who had been chaplain 
to Frederick, Prince of Wales, and who, for solemniz- 
ing marriages in defiance of the Marriage Act of 
George II, was sentenced to transportation to America, 
but died at Plymouth on the outgoing voyage. Tate 
Wilkinson finished his education at Harrow, and was, 
as a contemporary said, a polished gentleman ; yet, in 
spite of all the social prejudices against actors, he 
chose the despised profession that he might indulge 
his love of mimicry. 

By 1782 his position and fame had long been 
assured, and Mrs. Bland, who seems from this point 
to have taken her husband's real name, turned her 
thoughts to him in her necessity. 

Wilkinson was at that time stationed at Leeds, and 
there the Blands finished their journey from Dublin, 
arriving early in July. But in what a plight were 

How was it that within six weeks of acting the 
principal woman's parts for months in Dublin, Dorothy 
and her family arrived at Leeds so ill-dressed that 
Tate Wilkinson was ashamed of them? To put it in 
his own delicate way, they were not " so well accoutred 
as I could have wished for their sakes and mine own." 
Dorothy was destitute of clothing, the others were in a 
deplorable state, without money, friends, acquaint- 
ances, or any possibility of credit. The girl's attrac- 
tion depended on her animation, yet here on first seeing 
the actor from whom she desired work she was in such 
a state of depression that there was no prettiness in her 

5 8 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

looks; on the contrary, she was dejected and melan- 
choly, the tears slowly dropping, so sad and so helpless 
that the man's pity was awakened and he checked the 
decided " No " which rose to his lips at the request 
that he would give her a trial. 

There can be but the one explanation that I have 
given : that in a panic Dorothy rushed from Dublin, 
without her salary and without luggage, ready to starve 
rather than to remain longer in Daly's vindictive 

On their arrival at Leeds Mrs. Bland wrote to 
Wilkinson, and he went to see them at their inn, being 
most unfavourably impressed by them and their sur- 
roundings. Mrs. Bland, poor woman, whom he recog- 
nized as the Grace Philipps of a quarter of a century 
earlier, was so eager for his approbation that she 
overdid the praises of her daughter, talking so ful- 
somely that Wilkinson was disgusted, and at once 
resolved to have nothing to do with them. 

The thing which most upset him, however, was that, 
having heard Mrs. Bland talk ad nauseam, he turned 
to Dorothy with the question 

" But what do you play ? Comedy, tragedy, farce, 
or what ? " 

" All ! " replied the girl, with dull indifference. 

Wilkinson gasped and stared; and Dorothy, in 
telling the story in later life, would add 

" Sir, I never saw an elderly gentleman more 

Yet the pathos of Dorothy's aspect was too much 
for his kind heart, and he compromised by going away 
for half an hour to think matters over. He was not 
only horrified by their poverty and distress, but fearful 

'It! The Great Treasure" 59 

of the load which Dorothy was bearing. He could 
pay an actress sufficient for her own support, but 
sufficient for the support of four persons was quite 
another thing, and he was afraid of what demands 
might be made upon him. He came to the conclusion 
that he might at least see what the young lady could 
do, and with that intention returned. Dorothy, how- 
ever, declared that she was not then equal even to 
repeating some lines, and would rather have a fair trial 
on the boards, to which the manager reluctantly agreed. 

The trouble probably was that the Elands were all 
hungry, and Dorothy was too low to be able to put any 
heart into her words. Wilkinson ordered a bottle of 
madeira, and while they were drinking it Mrs. Bland 
gave him the news of Dublin, which allowed time 
for her daughter to pull herself together, the wine 
helping her and sending a warmer current through her 
veins. Seeing this, Wilkinson again suggested that 
she should speak a few lines from the part of Callista 
in The Fair Penitent, a play then much appreciated, 
and she agreed. 

On hearing her wonderful voice Wilkinson was con- 
quered, and records, " I felt inwardly surprised and 
delighted, and could not repress my hopes and my 
compliments, and assured her I was lucky in such an 
acquaintance. She, on her part, said if she could 
please me she did not fear the audience; for Mr. 
Wilkinson was a man (though a stranger to her) of such 
well-known honour that his word and direction should 
be her guide; she knew if she had merit it would soon 
be found out by the public; and her diligence, her 
anxiety to deserve my favour, should be unbounded; 
and gratitude being her natural good quality, I should 

60 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

ever receive that payment for my kindness to her in 
her destitute case. And so we complimented and 
flattered, and flattered and complimented, till we really 
found a sudden impulse of regard, and parted that 
noon with mutual good wishes and assurances." 

The good man went from that strange interview with 
a pleased mind and a feeling that he had really found 
a treasure, and he could not hide his satisfaction, for, 
joining his company for a rehearsal, he entertained 
them with a description of the little " female Proteus " 
who had applied to him. 

Wilkinson had also a further motive of association 
to induce him to consider Dorothy as a possible 
member of his company, for the unmarried Miss 
Philipps her mother's sister, who had been on the 
stage in minor companies presumably ever since that 
visit to London had been acting sometimes in York 
and elsewhere under his management. 

In the Elixir of Life it is asserted though Wil- 
kinson does not give the incident either in his Memoirs 
which were published at York in 1790, nor in The 
Wandering Patentee which saw the light five years 
later that he was from the first prejudiced against 
the Elands by Daly, who had written to him that 
Dorothy "was the worst of wretched actresses." If 
that is true, the letter would probably have followed 
and not preceded the arrival of the impecunious 
family, and so would have received no notice. It cer- 
tainly did not precede them, for Wilkinson announces 
their coming in his most entertaining book with " The 
MRS. JORDAN suddenly starts upon me at Leeds with 
her mother, Mrs. G. Phillips, Master and Miss Francis 
her brother and sister, all hand in hand." 

"It! The Great Treasure" 61 

Once having made up his mind to try Dorothy, the 
manager, without asking questions, billed his new- 
comer as Miss Bland, somewhat to the mother's dis- 
turbance, who told him that for the future the name 
of Francis was to be used in public. She was hoping 
not only for the continuance of the dole the Blands 
made her, but that they would at least do something 
substantial for the boy, the son of Francis Bland, and 
she had no wish to offend them. 

Besides billing the new actress well, Wilkinson did 
everything he could to ensure a good audience for 
her first night, with the result that the theatre was 
crowded on July u, 1782, when Dorothy duly appeared 
as Callista in The Fair Penitent. She was horribly 
nervous as she stood in the wings; it is said that she 
always lost her head before going on the stage, but 
that the first step on the boards banished every atom of 
self-consciousness. Thus it was on this first perform- 
ance in England, and she pleased the audience, which 
was inclined to be critical first and pleasant only as an 
afterthought. She had stipulated that, the play being 
over, she should go on again to sing the song of " The 
Greenwood Laddie," a song with which she was accus- 
tomed to get good results; and Tate Wilkinson did 
his best to dissuade her from it. 

" How can you die pathetically and then come on 
all alive and singing a pretty ballad ? " he asked. 

But she would not be moved, so after her death as 
Callista she appeared again in a simple frock and 
little mob-cap, and sang the song with such effect that 
both the audience and the manager were fascinated by 
the melody of her voice. She played sufficiently and 
successfully enough that month to have a benefit on 

62 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

August 6, and then the whole company went to 

For their work in that city Wilkinson had prepared 
bills announcing Miss Francis, and Mrs. Bland once 
more interfered, sending him a note in which she said 
that for very important reasons the name of Francis 
must be changed. His natural retort was, " Why not 
Bland, then?" Dorothy answered that that would 
injure them too much with her father's relatives, and 
it is obvious that in changing her name from Francis 
her design was again to hide her identity from them. 
Wilkinson gives two different accounts of how the word 
Jordan was chosen, and others have added their ideas : 
" For pregnant reasons the name of Francis gave place 
to that of Jordan," flippantly asserted one wag. 

One of Wilkinson's accounts runs that he said to 
her, " You have crossed the water, my dear, so I'll call 
you Jordan ! " Then, in telling the tale in later life, 
he always added, " And, by Sam, if she didn't take my 
joke in earnest, and call herself Mrs. Jordan ever since." 

His more restrained explanation is that he and the 
Blands met to talk it over, and ultimately the name of 
Jordan was adopted ; " and a good name it has proved 
for her credit, and will be remembered with the tribute 
of honour to her undoubted excellent talents while the 
stage is permitted any share in history or conversation." 

One newspaper account of her life says that Dorothy 
herself explained her name by saying to a friend that 
she was sure that in Ireland she had shed enough tears 
to overflow the River Jordan, on which the friend 
pointed out that there was a name for her choice. 

But, so far as I can prove, this was another of those 
incidents in her life of which Dorothy alone kept the 

"It! The Great Treasure* 1 63 

secret. Wilkinson in a vague way, and Boaden, who 
wrote of her in 1831, both connect the choice of the 
name with the Miss Philipps who was then dying in 
the very city which the company had reached. Boaden 
remarks in his usual discursive fashion he was a 
wonderful person for talking around the subject and 
never arriving at the point 

' The reader must be made acquainted with the 
reason which produced this new decision as to the 
name on the arrival at York. . . . The fact is that her 
aunt, Miss Philipps, who had also been an actress in 
the York company, and was now lying dangerously ill, 
had that last infirmity of the Welsh mind, a high value 
for the families to which she claimed alliance the 
Ap-Griffiths, the Winnys, and the Aprices of Wales. 
She had earnestly entreated to see her sister, Mrs. 
Bland, and to welcome her niece, whom she pro- 
nounced to be already an honour to the stock from 
which she derived alike her theatrical and lineal 
honours, and as this near relative was at the point of 
death . . . prudence and affection concurred in allow- 
ing the last wish of an aunt who felt her interest so 

Now what was the wish? To see her sister or to 
agree to the change of name? Boaden starts to give 
the reason for the change of name and ends by telling 

My conjecture is that this biographer intended to 
give the real information, but that his habit of slurring 
anything which would detract from the honour of the 
connections of his heroine he does it all through his 
book made him temporize and reduce his information 
to the finest point. 

64 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

When hunting for confirmation of my suspicions 
concerning the birth of Dorothy Bland I found, as has 
been told, a third entry in the book in St. Martin's 
vestry, to this effect 

Aug. 14, 1761. [Baptized] Dorothy, [daughter of] 
Ignatius and Mary Jordan. [Born] Aug. 14. 

Now this was at a time when Miss Philipps was most 
probably in London with her sister and settled near her 
in St. Martin's parish. She may have made a marriage 
which was unhappy, or of short duration ; she may not 
even have married Ignatius at all, only the absurdly 
ponderous name makes it impossible to connect the 
young man with any lightness of thought. If some 
trouble occurred and she found it necessary soon to go 
back to her work alone, it was certain that she would 
take it up again under the name by which she had so 
far been known, and she certainly would have no 
reason to confide her private affairs to any one, 
certainly not to such an inveterate gossip as Tate 

Thus my theory is that the little Dorothy Jordan 
who was born so weakly that she had to be baptized 
the same day, and then most likely died, was the 
daughter of Miss M. Philipps, and that the wish to 
which " both prudence and affection " conceded was 
that the girl who seemed on the road to fame should 
bear with her the memory of the little cousin whom she 
had never seen, and so warm the soul of the dying 
woman with the idea that her child would not be wholly 
forgotten. But this is all theory drawn from the 
association of names, and the " wish " of Miss Philipps. 
Miss Philipps had been acting for Tate Wilkinson 

'It! The Great Treasure" 65 

for some years until 1769, when she ended her engage- 
ment with him in angry jealousy of a young actress 
named Baker, for the elder lady believed greatly in her 
own prowess and could not bear to see another take her 
parts. After that she acted in many provincial towns ; her 
name is recorded at Manchester, for instance, in 1771. 

If Boaden, awed by having known personally and 
having made himself very useful to Mrs. Jordan, and 
by having on various occasions come in contact with 
the Duke of Clarence, was too subservient to his king, 
William IV, to speak out, such is not the character of 
Wilkinson. He had the fault or the virtue of all good 
raconteurs, he never could resist telling a good story. 
As regards Miss Philipps, he also betrays some slight 
resentment, which makes him relish making such a 
statement about the meeting of the relatives as " She 
had plenty of clothes and linen (at the pawnbroker's); 
she bequeathed them to her beloved niece (which under 
the rose was not at that time by any means unaccept- 
able)." He also confides to his public that Miss 
Philipps had a fatal weakness probably the drink or 
drug habit. 

That Daly in his spite did threaten to sue Dorothy 
is quite true. She had signed a contract to work for 
so long with him, and she left before that time was up, 
the full penalty being ,250. So the choice was put 
before her, either to return or to pay the money, which, 
however, was really a choice between returning to 
Dublin or going to prison. But by the time this affair 
had grown serious, Tate Wilkinson was perfectly per- 
suaded that he had obtained a treasure, and he had 
exerted himself to befriend that treasure to the best of 
his ability. Probably thinking that her acting would be 

66 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

better for a little tuition, he had introduced her to a 
dramatic critic, an old gentleman named Cornelius 
Swan, who was much respected in York, and who 
thought highly of Dorothy's powers, though he was 
also certain that no one could approach himself in the 
knowledge of how things should be done. 

Mr. Swan undertook to give Dorothy lessons, and he 
was so eager to see her improvement that it is said that 
when she was ill (perhaps during her stay at York) he 
was admitted to her bedchamber, and would sit by the 
side of her bed, wrapped up and adorned in Mrs. 
Eland's old red cloak, and so instruct the girl in how 
to act the character of Zara in the tragedy of that name 
by Hill. 

" Really, Wilkinson," said he, " I have given the 
Jordan but three lessons, but she is so adroit at 
receiving my instructions that I swear that she repeats 
the character as well as Mrs. Gibber ever did ; nay, let 
me do the Jordan justice, for I do not exceed when 
with truth I declare Jordan speaks it as well as I could 
myself ! " 

His friendship went further than his praise, for when 
he knew the dreadful predicament in which Dorothy 
was placed, he actually paid the 250, rather than lose 
so promising a pupil, or let the stage be robbed of one 
for whom he expected fame. It was done with many 
assurances of lasting friendship and declarations that 
for the future she must consider herself his adopted 
daughter; but the exacting manager noted that he " did 
not prove a tender, fond parent, for at his death he did 
not leave her a shilling." 

Wilkinson had started his young actress with fifteen 
shillings a week little enough, it may be thought, and 

' It ! The Great Treasure ' 67 

much less than she had been receiving ; but then these 
small theatres did not bring in much money, and it was 
hard work to pay all and still retain something. But 
the race week at York was not only successful, it made 
the intelligent Patentee see the need for keeping his 
" treasure " in his own hand. Among those who came 
down to the races that year, and who came every year, 
was an actor known at Drury Lane and in the profes- 
sion as Gentleman Smith, and he spent the first evening 
of his stay in the theatre. There to his surprise he 
found a girl who gave great promise, and with whose 
acting he was so much impressed that he repeated his 
visits to the play every evening, watching Dorothy in 
many different parts, and confiding his opinion of her 
ability to the genial manager. To guard against thefts 
and accidents the alert Wilkinson at once doubled 
Dorothy's salary, and gave her an extraordinary 
benefit, " for her services were truly valuable, and she 
not only wanted but truly deserved every encourage- 
ment/' One wonders if he would have been so sure 
of this if he had not also been afraid that Gentleman 
Smith might lure her to London. To make matters 
entirely safe he, as soon as he got back to Leeds, had 
the articles of a long engagement settled, and there- 
after he felt less alarmed concerning any reports that 
Gentleman Smith might give in London of Mrs. 
Jordan's cleverness. 

But in one respect Dorothy had succeeded too well 
for her comfort. The absurd practice of women taking 
men's parts was tried by Wilkinson, and one actor left 
the company in disgust because his part was given to 
Mrs. Jordan; the actresses, also, were too jealous to 
be friendly. " Why should this new-comer have two 

68 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

benefits in three months?" they asked; which was 
indeed too sore a point to be forgotten; thus as soon 
as Dorothy appeared in the Green Room in the 
evenings she would hear some such conversation as 

" Pray, ma'am, when is your benefit ? " 

" Oh, I cannot say. When is yours ? for I see Mrs. 
Jordan begins with one next Wednesday." 

They all turned against her, and if it had not been 
for the support of Wilkinson for she had gregarious 
instincts, and to be sent to Coventry by those around 
her depressed her miserably she would have failed 
under the daily snubbing she received. Her com- 
panions could not believe that her talents were in any 
way superior to their own; they put her good fortune 
down to the partiality of the manager ; and he, totally 
indifferent to their attitude to him, could only feel that 
it was impossible to let slip one who, to use his own 
words, "gave uncommon labour and study to the 
theatre"; one whose spirits (temper?), as he quaintly 
says, "were never violent except when scolding the 
manager or having an empty pocket." 

Dorothy went with the company to other Yorkshire 
towns (Wakefield, Doncaster and Sheffield), and it was 
at the last place that she had a narrow escape of her 
life; for when playing the part of the chambermaid, 
with Knight, the Liverpool manager, as footman in 
The Fair American, a drop-scene on a heavy roller fell 
suddenly at their feet. A few inches more to the back 
and Mrs. Jordan would never more have been heard 
of, while Knight would have had his career cut short. 
During this visit to Sheffield the Duke of Norfolk- 
he whom the Prince of Wales once made so frightfully 
drunk on brandy at the Pavilion developed an 

"It! The Great Treasure" 69 

admiration for Dorothy and would bring a troop of 
friends to see her act whenever she was in that town. 

But to return to the jealous ladies : one of the most 
jealous was a Mrs. Smith "who toiled hard in my 
vineyard and earned her reward," says Wilkinson. 
This lady regarded her reward, however, as something 
more than work or wages ; she required to stand first in 
public and managerial estimation. Unfortunately for 
this ambition, she was that summer and autumn in that 
condition which a woman desires to be who loves her 
lord, and the fear of her enforced rest acted on her 
nerves, producing an exceptional amount of spite and 
rivalry. However, inexorable Nature decreed that 
Mrs. Smith should lay down her arms, and Dorothy 
Jordan joyfully took up the burden of the fight. Wil- 
kinson says that the latter would learn a new part in 
twenty-four hours, and that she played night after 
night with unremitting zeal. She, too, knew that her 
time was short, but she made the best of it both for 
her manager and herself. It would have been better 
for Mrs. Smith had she been content comfortably to 
let things slide, for the laugh would have been on her 
side in November and December. But she was so 
determined to allow no advantage to her rival by a 
lengthy absence, that "in a short time of her lying- 
in " (I cannot decide whether this means before or 
after, for Tate Wilkinson adds " though a very remark- 
able wet September"), she would walk in a damp 
garden to get strength for the journey of eighteen 
miles from Doncaster to Sheffield, to which place the 
company went on October 13. Her infant was born 
on the second of that month, so if the walks in the 
damp garden were taken between the second and the 

70 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

eighteenth, then Mrs. Smith simply asked for disaster. 
Wilkinson begged her neither to go to Sheffield nor to 
act until she was quite strong, but she insisted upon 
taking the journey and it meant driving in as cheap 
a way as possible, or walking with the consequence 
that she had fixed lameness in her hip, which was likely 
to prove dangerous. Even that did not keep her from 
the boards ; act she would and act she did, limping and 
hobbling over the stage rather than let Dorothy appear, 
and in no way prevented by the manager's assurance 
that, as Jordan was at hand, there was no need for her 
attendance. The result of this headstrong act was a 
relapse and an enforced rest until December 18. As 
Dorothy took her "rest" from November 2 until late 
in December, Wilkinson was left lamenting two of his 
chief characters. 

She spent this retirement in Hull, and her absence 
from the stage gave plenty of opportunity for malici- 
ous gossip, deliberate efforts being made there to 
destroy her reputation a proof of her merit, else such 
indefatigable pains to injure and depress had not been 
taken. Thus when she appeared on the Hull stage in 
the part of Callista on December 26, 1782, though the 
house was good, her reception was cool, and, as all her 
life she was more than ordinarily affected by the atti- 
tude of her audiences, her performance was languid 
and spiritless. In the succeeding song, " The Green- 
wood Laddie," she was hissed. 

Wilkinson puts this all down to the malevolence of 
what he calls the " Scandal Club," otherwise the 
jealous tongues of the actresses in his company, who 
represented to the ladies in the town that Mrs. Jordan 
was too improper a person to receive their support. 

"It! The Great Treasure'' 71 

It was not long, however, before Dorothy's merits 
overcame prejudice, and slander was mute. 

At Sheffield, in 1783, theatrical affairs were very 
low in public estimation, the takings one night being 
only ,6 gs., though Dorothy's benefit gained 57. 
Six pounds nine shillings is bad enough, but it is on 
record that on one occasion when Garrick and Mrs. 
Gibber were acting at Drury Lane the evening's cash 
receipts amounted only to 3 15^. 6d. The Scandal 
Club was in great strength in Sheffield, headed by 
Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Ward, a new acquisition whose 
husband was in the band. The latter was very proud 
of herself in small clothes, and resented the fact that 
Mrs. Jordan had all the parts in which the debonair 
young man was played by a woman. Indeed, her 
resentment amounted to hatred, and she fanned Mrs. 
Smith's jealousy to an active state. These two women 
soon infected the others, and an organized attempt was 
made to render Dorothy's play bad by small persecu- 
tions, the favourite scheme being for several of them 
to sit in a group at the stage door, or the wings, and 
do everything in their power to disconcert her when 
going through her part. Wilkinson frustrated this by 
having all the doors which were not needed padlocked 
each night, and the knowledge that the manager was 
aware of what was going on acted as a deterrent. 

Dorothy was a clever girl though, and not an actress 
for nothing, and she managed to secure retribution for 
her rivals in their loss of popularity. She would go 
on the stage with an air of the deepest distress, her 
eyes red and tears trickling, her tongue tied in the 
effort to prevent sobbing. At this sad sight the 
audience would ask what could possibly be the matter ? 

72 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

was she ill or injured? and then the whisper would 
circulate as to the unkindness of her sister actresses. 
Mrs. Smith never could conquer her hatred, and 
favours received from her rival only made her more 
bitter. When that winter she and her husband had a 
benefit, Dorothy, with fine magnanimity, offered her 
services and drew a great house, thus contributing 
largely to the sum pocketed by the Smiths, and the 
lady thanked her by grumbling; as Wilkinson says, 
"Jordan was the fly in the ointment, and still Mrs. 
Smith was not happy." 

There were some incidents in her life which Dorothy 
Bland never forgot, among them being naturally the 
horror and distress brought upon her by the tyrant 
Daly, and the struggles of her early years on the stage. 
Her memory of the first filled her mind with tender 
feelings for women in the same plight, and after the 
birth of her daughter she kept by her several complete 
sets of linen necessary to a lying-in, which she lent 
out to poor women. When in after years she had more 
money to spend she increased the number of these 
bundles, and round Richmond and Drury Lane was 
often blessed by women who knew not where to secure 
necessities in their extremity. 

For struggling actresses she always felt a generous 
sympathy and often showed it actively. Thus a girl 
of fifteen named Wilkinson applied to Tate (who was 
no relation) for work. Fifteen seems an absurd age 
to think of being self-supporting, but this girl had 
several years earlier, with other children, including the 
future Mrs. Kemble, little Romanzini, who was the 
future Mrs. George Bland, and others, acted at the 
circus in London in a piece by old Dibdin called 

"It! The Great Treasure" 73 

The Boarding School, or Breaking Up, a performance 
which was so successful that the patent proprietors 
interfered, and the children narrowly escaped gaol. 

Wilkinson had no part for the young actress and 
could offer little hope of one, but to relieve her imme- 
diate needs he promised her a benefit performance 
on the last day of the year. She was quite unknown 
to the company, and there was little reason why any 
members should take trouble over her; but Dorothy, 
thinking pitifully of her own hard struggle, acted as 
Lionel to her Clarissa, and thus earned for herself the 
lasting friendship of the girl who, as Mrs. Mountain, 
was later well known on the London boards. Mrs. 
Smith kept her jealousy of Dorothy alive, and as in 
her benefit during the winter of 1783 she was not only 
not grateful but even spiteful, so in the winter of 1784 
she followed the same tactics : for that benefit a new 
play, Fontainebleau, was acted, and though Mrs. 
Smith was given the part most suited to her, she was 
so annoyed that she could not have that allotted to 
her rival that she quarrelled violently with Wilkin- 
son, and swore she would spoil the character every 
time she played it. This she proceeded to do, forget- 
ting that while she was glorying in vexing the manager 
she was also losing her reputation as an actress. 

During the winter season, however, of 1784-5 
Dorothy lost some of her charm. She was ill and in 
poor spirits. Wilkinson, who was a kind-hearted man, 
though he had grown cynical in a good-natured way 
through his constant study of the actor-character, could 
not be sure whether she was really ill or only affected 
to be so. It is a curious fact that though Dorothy was 
always praised for her spontaneity and her natural 

74 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

acting, she was all through her life to be suspected of 
acting when illness kept her off the stage. She was 
not a strong woman, but any indisposition on her part 
was generally the signal for some cry equivalent to the 
word malingering. 

It has generally been said that Dorothy entirely 
supported her family of five persons while in York, 
but this was not so; for if Hester did not start acting 
as soon as she got to Yorkshire, it was not long before 
she began. On July 16, 1793, she made her first 
appearance on the Leeds stage, as Miss Francis, with 
a song, and she gradually progressed until two years 
later she was acting more constantly than Dorothy, and 
in important parts Polly in A Beggar on Horseback, 
Juliet in Measure for Measure, etc. George also, as 
Master Francis, filled up gaps, such as a printer's 
devil, a messenger, an archer, and occasionally sang 
duets on the stage with Dorothy. It is, however, very 
possible that he got little or nothing for his juvenile 

All through these years George Inchbald, stepson 
to Mrs. Inchbald, was a member of the company, and 
there was the beginning of a romance between him and 
Dorothy. One gossiper records that he loved her, but 
that circumstances were too desperate and her pride 
was too great for her to accept him, but the weight of 
evidence lies on the side of a strong emotion on the 
part of the lady which won a condescending but weak 
reciprocation from the gentleman. Dorothy's way- 
wardness, her recurring depression and fitful humour 
at this time point rather to a trouble of the heart and 
mind than to disease of the body, to unhappiness rather 
than to unhealthiness. George, however, was a pru- 

"It! The Great Treasure' 75 

dent man, too prudent to catch opportunity at its call 
too prudent, in fact, ever to achieve success. " The 
humble Nell of the York stage " was too humble to 
draw the magic declaration from him, and perhaps her 
unhappiness was too great for her to rise above it. So 
Dorothy gained the reputation that winter of being 
careless and inattentive to her parts, and the irritation 
of the audience culminated in March 1785 when a 
benefit performance was given of Cymbeline, followed 
by The Poor Soldier, and she was billed to sing a song 
at the end of the third act of the tragedy and to play 
in the farce. She said she was not well, and she evi- 
dently intended to lighten the evening's work by 
cutting out the song in Cymbeline; but the audience 
wanted the song, they refused to do without it; they 
demanded the song or nothing with their vengeance 
to follow. 

Wilkinson unsuccessfully used all his art to make 
his actress sing, but, as he said, " no persuasion would 
do. Those who know Mrs. Jordan must know, without 
the least offence, she is very obstinate, she may be led 
but will not be driven on the stage or off, unless she 
is in the humour." 

The audience were even more obstinate than she; 
they reasoned that if she were really ill she would 
have stayed at home and given up her part in the farce ; 
and if she were well enough to play and sing in the 
farce, she could also sing a song in the earlier piece. 
Of course she had to give way, for she had no wish to 
create a riot, so at last she staggered on to the stage, 
looking frightfully pale and already dressed as the 
poor soldier. Telling the audience she was ill, she 
promptly fainted against the background. The seep- 

76 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

ticism in front was, however, proof even against this, 
and when she was recovered sufficiently she was 
obliged to sing 

" In the prattling years of youth/' etc. 

In giving his personal recollections of Mrs. Jordan 
during these three years Tate Wilkinson is very apolo- 
getic humorously so, for he published his Wandering 
Patentee just ten years later, when she was at the 
height of her fame, and he might well have thought 
that he was telling things she might prefer to have 
kept hidden. At one point he says 

" Mrs. Jordan has more sense than to suppose, in 
relating these transactions, I mean any more than to 
make her laugh as well as any other reader; her not 
being so affluent at the time I am making mention 
reflects not the least disgrace, as she never can shine 
more in her days of prosperity than in her days of 

But he had practically quarrelled with her in 1791, 
four years before the book came out. As he says in 
another part of it, " I have ever entertained a regard 
for Mrs. Jordan, but speaking the truth, I trust, will 
little wrong her; we have often been very strong 
friends, and as often at whimsical jarrings. It is not 
only in 1782 I shall have the honour of introducing her, 
but occasionally, and will extend to 1790, and then I 
believe I made my rough bow, and the lady not any 
courtesy ; and it is probable that we shall never meet 

They never did meet again, I believe, though 
Wilkinson did not die until 1803. 

In the summer of 1785 the great chance came for 

"It! The Great Treasure" 77 

Dorothy; for Gentleman Smith had never forgotten 
the girl he had first seen acting in York three years 
before, and whom he had made a point of watching 
every race week in that town since. 

Mrs. Siddons was then the one star of Drury Lane, 
<r the great Siddonian Queen/' as one of her admirers 
called her, and there seems to have been no one to act 
as understudy to her; so Smith suggested that Mrs. 
Jordan should be engaged to play second to their 
incomparable actress, at four pounds a week. 

At that time Dorothy had not seen Mrs. Siddons, 
but she was ready to go to London on almost any 
terms, for she had now been working three years in 
Yorkshire for a little wage, and she found that in 
London her salary could be more than doubled, so 
the arrangement was made that she should begin her 
assault of London in the autumn of 1785. As to her 
work there she may from the first have made some 
mental reservations, for the desire of her heart was to 
play second to no one, not even to Siddons. 

There was a certain play written by Wycherley 
known as The Country Wife, which in its immorality 
and wit well represented the somewhat free days of its 
original production. To meet the demand for con- 
stant change and variety, this old play had been 
revived by Garrick, who, seeing its dramatic possibili- 
ties, changed it sufficiently to make its presentation 
possible in an age which seemed quite as pure after 
the licence of the Restoration period as that age itself 
seems impure to the increased delicacy of our own 

The great David, after his pruning exertions, re- 
named it The Country Girl, and brought it up to the 

78 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

level of his usual audience not a particularly high 
level, for, despite the Shakespearean vogue, rape and 
adultery were the stock subjects of much of the 
popular drama of the time. Oxberry says that 
Francis Bland was responsible for a re-revival of this 
play, and that Grace acted in it. This may have been, 
but it again had fallen out of use when, in 1785, an 
actress named Mrs. Brown, belonging to the Norwich 
company, took it to York in April, and Dolly watched 
its performance critically. She saw greater possibili- 
ties in it than Mrs. Brown had brought out, and deter- 
mined to make the play her own. Though she had 
acted since her first days in Dublin in The Romp, she 
had never yet identified herself with farcical comedy, 
but was considered that somewhat colourless person, 
a good all-round actress, with especial talent for senti- 
ment. Now The Country Girl woke her from her 
lethargy, and she began to lay plans for her future in 

It was said that Mrs. Brown taught Dorothy Jordan 
how to play the part, a statement upon which Wilkin- 
son throws his light scorn : " I do not think Mrs. Brown 
had a wish to give any instructions, nor the other lady 
the least inclination to receive them, had they been 
offered; each held the abilities of the other in the 
highest contempt, and there was no love lost between 

It is evident from all accounts that Dorothy's acting 
was of a poor quality this summer, for Mr. Yates, the 
husband of the actress, seeing her in Yorkshire, gave 
his opinion that Mrs. Jordan was a piece of theatrical 
mediocrity, while he thought Miss Wilkinson, who had 
succeeded in getting a position with the company, both 

"It! The Great Treasure" 79 

pleasing and promising, and Mrs. Brown as the height 
of excellence. Mrs. Siddons, too, who was touring 
there in August, and doubtless knew that this young 
woman was to be her " second," gave it as her opinion 
that Mrs. Jordan had better remain where she was and 
not attempt the London boards. It is curious to note 
that this same advice was given to Mrs. Siddons 
herself in her early days by William Woodfall, the 
dramatic critic, for he thought her too weak for the 
large London theatres, and recommended her to keep 
to small houses where she could be heard. 

The struggle for life was so bitter, and the mental 
horizon of the players so limited that their quarrels 
and there were many seem often to have verged upon 
farce; and this year the introduction of a new actress 
into Wilkinson's company, a Mrs. Robinson, later 
known as Mrs. Taylor, gave a delicious example of the 
effects of jealousy. It was at Leeds that Wilkinson 
engaged her, recording that "her figure in small- 
clothes was neat to perfection," and probably by his 
favourable impression of her he at once set the heart 
of a loving mother beating with anger. For Mrs. 
Bland still thought her daughter possessed of the very 
highest attributes of her art, and she despised any one 
who dared to strut in the characters that she regarded 
as sacred to Dorothy. As a new actress or any special 
occasion would draw the unoccupied members of the 
company to show their curiosity by hanging round the 
doors which opened on to the stage, Mrs. Bland one 
night took a chair, and sitting where she could see 
everything well, watched Mrs. Robinson perform. 
It was a sight which saddened her almost to distrac- 
tion, and when the manager came her way she caught 

8o The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

him by the coat, and, holding her apron over her eyes, 
demanded earnestly that he would tell her, as an act 
of kindness, when that fright should have done acting 
and speaking, for it was so horrid that she could not 
bear to look at it. 

Mrs. Robinson was just as flattering to Dorothy; 
when in conversation with Wilkinson one evening she 
wondered how he could say that Mrs. Jordan had so 
much merit; for her own part she could not discover 
that she had any, or, if any, only a small share, and 
that mediocre. " I flatter myself that I have some 
judgment, and I venture to say that when you lose 
your great treasure in the autumn, and IT goes to 
London, IT will be glad to come back if you will 
accept IT." 

That Mrs. Robinson had some reason for her 
opinion the public testified when, at Dorothy's benefit, 
which occurred on July 25, it refused to attend, the 
house holding but a sprinkling of people to see her act 
Imogen in Cymbeline, and Rachel in The Fair 

With nonchalant weariness Dorothy trod the York 
boards for the last time early in September, and made 
her last appearance in Yorkshire as a member of Wil- 
kinson's company at Wakefield on the ninth of that 
month in The Poor Soldier. It was with no great hope 
that she set off for London, for life and acting had 
staled for her; she was sure of nothing, not even of 
herself, and no presentiment of what was to come shed 
any glow over her mind, though her new salary of 
four pounds a week must have been very comforting 
in anticipation. 



" Her laughter is the happiest and most natural thing on the stage ; if 
she is to laugh in the middle of a speech, it does not separate itself so 
abruptly from her words as with most of our performers. . . . Her 
laughter intermingles itself with her words as fresh ideas afford her fresh 
merriment, she does not so much indulge as she seems unable to help it ; 
it increases, it lessens, with her fancy, and when you expect it no longer 
according to the usual habits of the stage, it sparkles forth at little 
intervals as recollection revives it, like flame from half- smothered embers. 
This is the laughter of the feelings, and it is the predominance of heart 
in all she says and does that renders her the most delightful actress in 
the Violante of The Wonder, the Clara of Matrimony, and in twenty 
other characters." LEIGH HUNT. 

IN September 1785 the Elands went to London, the 
party consisting of Mrs. Bland, Hester, Dorothy and 
the little Frances, daughter of Daly. There is no 
mention of a brother at this time, the report being that 
he had been sent to school and college by his father's 
relatives. This, however, was a confusion with Mrs. 
Williams and Nathaniel, for George was with his sister 
all the time they were in Yorkshire, though she may 
have sent him to school later. Henrietta Street, 
Covent Garden, seems to have been the first London 
home of the family. 

At this time Mrs. Siddons was the one great actress 
at Drury Lane, Miss Farren being the only other of 
note, and she played the dainty fine lady of the con- 
ventional type to perfection ; but there was no one to 
represent farcical comedy, and, indeed, farcical 
comedy was not in favour. Mrs. Siddons had so 
accustomed the public to the representations of death 

F 8l 

82 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

and tragic endings that people went to the theatre to 
cry, to shudder and often to faint. So often was the 
last-named luxury indulged in, and so complimentary 
was it thought to be to the chief actress, that later public 
mockery was made of it in bogus advertisements, as 
when Mrs. Elizabeth Screech announced that she was 
well known at Drury Lane Theatre, having had the 
honour of fainting for a great tragic actress there these 
ten years past, where she flatters herself she has given 
ample satisfaction, etc., etc. 

Such a theatre was just the right place for Dorothy 
Bland, for though she could not honestly desire to 
understudy Mrs. Siddons, she yet had the capacity to 
lighten the gloom and educate the theatre-loving 
London to a greater variety of taste. She was 
announced in the papers first as a new performer, as 
thus from the Morning Post: " Mr. Lawrence and two 
young female performers were to have come out in 
Philaster, but they will now make their entries 
separately." This was corrected by : " The lady who 
is to make her first appearance in the revived Philaster 
is not, as has been said, a dramatic novice, but one 
initiated in every mystery of the scene. Her name is 

But Dorothy successfully claimed the right to 
choose the play in which she should first appear, and 
flew in the face of usage by demanding to make her 
debut as Peggy in The Country Girl. Eventually 
Tom King, the nominal manager, and Sheridan, the 
lessee-manager, agreed, and it was whispered among 
theatrical circles that they decided to run the risk of 
introducing her in farcical comedy because their great 
star was too high fixed for them. Her haughtiness 


. < e 

Dorothy and the British Public 83 

offended all, and those with whom she acted were in 
the humiliating position of being made to feel it an 
honour to act with her. It may have been manner 
only, but Mrs. Siddons seemed never to have been 
able to forget either her talent or her virtue. Thus 
proprietor, managers, actors all had a score up against 
her, and felt that the only method of holding their 
own was to make an attack from within. So on 
Gentleman Smith's recommendation Dorothy was 
allowed innocently to take the position of chief 

The chosen night was October 18, 1785, a day of 
mingled hopes and fears for the young actress, 
followed by deadly nervousness, but once on the stage 
she became totally unconscious of all but the part she 
had to play. 

The house was not good for fashionable people 
would not go to see an unknown actress and the 
criticisms of the following morning were varied, a few 
bad, but mostly good. " Mrs. Jordan was vulgar," 
said one, she might do as " Filch in The Beggars' 
Opera'' said Harris of Covent Garden, to which an 
enthusiast retorted, " Certainly, for she filches our 
hearts away." 

Henry Tremamondo, better known as Henry 
Angelo, was present that evening, and says of it in 
his Reminiscences: " The first night of Mrs. Jordan's 
appearance at Drury Lane, as Peggy in The Country 
Girl, I was in the balcony box, over the stage, in com- 
pany with Parson Bate and Duffer Vaughan, . . . 
at the time they were so delighted with her debut, 
that they both decided on her future excellence, 
particularly Mr. Bate, whose critique the next morn- 

84 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

ing, in the Morning Herald, speaking of her per- 
fections, ' true to nature/ foretold her future abilities/' 

One paragraph of Mr. Bate's criticism gives some 
idea of Dorothy's appearance : " She is universally 
allowed to possess a figure, small perhaps, but neat 
and elegant, as was remarkably conspicuous when she 
was dressed as a boy in the third act. Her face, if 
not beautiful, is said by some to be pretty and by some 
pleasing, intelligent or impressive. Her voice, if not 
peculiarly sweet, is not harsh, if not strong, is clear 
and equal to the extent of the theatre. She has much 
activeness, and gave every point of the dialogue with 
the most comic effect, and improved to the uttermost 
all the ludicrous situations with which The Country 
Girl abounds. From such premises there is and can 
be but one conclusion, that she is a most valuable 
acquisition to the public stock of innocent enter- 

It was six nights before Dorothy again acted, for 
Mrs. Siddons expecting the birth of a child in mid- 
winter, was taking every night that she could at the 
theatre so as to fulfil her contract and yet have two or 
three months' rest. But each time Dolly played the 
audience was larger, and before the winter was over 
there was a line of carriages stretching through the 
streets around Drury Lane such as had been regarded 
as a tribute solely to the powers of Mrs. Siddons. As 
soon as her success was assured paeans of praise were 
heard : " Perhaps no debut, except that of young 
Roscius, has excited so great a sensation in the dramatic 
world," said a writer in the Dramatic Magazine, well 
after the event; and others did the same, giving 
accounts which, though quite true of the real result, 

Dorothy and the British Public 85 

were not true of the first night. Mrs. Inchbald, who 
had met Dorothy again and again, and later wrote 
one or two plays for her, said that " She came to town 
with no report in her favour to elevate her above a 
very moderate salary or to attract more than a very 
moderate house. But she displayed such consummate 
art, with such bewitching good nature, such excellent 
acting and such innocent simplicity, that her auditors 
were boundless in their plaudits and so warm in their 
praises when they left the theatre, that their friends 
at home would not give credit to their eulogies/' She 
went on to say that Dorothy's pronunciation was im- 
perfect and that most of her words were pronounced 
with a kind of provincial dialect, a remark which 
annoyed Boaden very much, and he retorted in his 
Life that Mrs. Jordan was guided by the principle 
of giving to certain words a fullness and comic rich- 
ness, which rendered them most truly representative 
of the ideas they stood for ; " it was expressing all the 
juice from the grape of the laughing vine. To instance 
once for all : she knew the importance attached to a 
best gown. Let the reader recollect the full volume 
of sound which she threw into those words, and he will 
understand me. It was not provincial dialect, it was 
humorous delivery, and as a charm only inferior to 
her laugh." 

To this may be added what Gait said in his refuta- 
tion of the idea that Mrs. Brown taught Dorothy to 
act in this piece. * The elastic step, the artless action, 
the sincere laugh, and, if the expression can be used, 
the juicy tones of her clear and melodious voice, so 
peculiar to Mrs. Jordan, could never have been 
attained by studying any other. The manner in which 

86 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

she used to pronounce the single word ' Ecod ! ' was 
as if she had taken a mouthful of some ripe and 
delicious peach/' 

This curious simile of luscious fruit was indulged in 
by Hazlitt when he criticized King's acting in later 
life, which he said left " a taste in the palate sharp 
and sweet like a peach; with an old, hard, rough, 
withered face, like a John-apple, puckered up into a 
thousand wrinkles, with shrewd hints and tart replies." 

As Covent Garden and Drury Lane Theatres were 
each anxiously trying to outdo the other, the former 
theatre introduced Miss Brunton in Dorothy's line, 
and for a short space there was discussion as to which 
of the two actresses was the better. Then near the 
end of January Mrs. Brown was brought up from 
Norwich by Harris to act The Country Girl before a 
London audience. But success did not attend his 
effort, for not only were the two actresses quite differ- 
ent, but their acting was quite different also, and 
Dorothy had the gorgeous quality of youth : the 
laughter, the innocence, the ingenuous air all seemed 
real ; while Mrs. Brown was a matron " long past the 
season in which alone the hoyden can look natural 
and prove attractive." 

The critics were constantly comparing Dorothy with 
Peg Woffington and Kitty Clive, and, indeed, since 
the retirement of the latter there had been no actress 
on the boards who could wring a hearty laugh from 
the audience. 

It is noteworthy that on the 6th of December, two 
months after Dorothy's debut in London, Mrs. Clive 
died at Strawberry Hill, and Horace Walpole, who 
did not think that any one could equal her in her 

Dorothy and the British Public 87 

particular style, put a memorial urn in her cottage 
garden, having inscribed upon it 

"This is Mirth's consecrated ground. 
Here lived the laughter-loving dame 
A matchless actress Clive her name. 
The comic muse with her retired 
And shed a tear when she expired." 

To this Peter Pindar (Dr. Wolcot), who was a 
devoted admirer of Dorothy Jordan, retorted 

" Know Comedy is hearty all alive, 

Truth and thy trumpet seem not to agree ; 
The spritely lass no more expired with Clive, 
Than Dame Humility will do with thee." 

To sum up the results of Mrs. Jordan's early appear- 
ance in London, both critics and actors were unani- 
mous in declaring her a force on the boards. Bannister 
was enthusiastic, Sheridan was joyful, and King, 
though no admirer of her style, foresaw new life and 
new prosperity for the theatre which he had served 
so long; its affairs were in such a condition that any 
one who could bring gold to its coffers was heartily 
welcomed by the harried sub-manager. Sheridan was 
the real despot, but he had far too many arduous 
occupations not to need some one to do the work and 
receive the kicks of fortune for him. 

As for Dorothy herself she started with 4 a week, 
and in a few days was promised &. Poverty had not 
blinded her to her own merit, and when she saw how 
thoroughly she had dragged Drury Lane out of its 
sluggish despondency she asked a further rise, and 
after some discussion another 4 a week was added 
to her receipts. Physical strength and hope had 
returned, she seemed to be on the top of the wave, and 
enjoyed the position. It is not necessary or interesting 
to go through a list of the parts she played, except 

The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

where they did something more than fill the theatre 
or put money in her pocket. But one of the pieces 
which added to her fame this winter was The Trip to 
Scarborough, which was an expurgated edition of Sir 
John Vanburgh's Relapse, also prepared by Sheridan. 

This play was hardly as refined as might be wished, 
one prominent character being Sir Tunbelly Clumsy, 
whose name alone implies grossness. Mrs. Jordan 
took the part of his daughter, the joyous, rustic Miss 
Hoyden, showing in all its perfection the kind of young 
lady who has left the nursery without being old enough 
to appear in the drawing-room, who felt the sentiments 
of a woman while still retaining the petulance and way- 
wardness of a child. Her dress in this character was 
described by Mrs. Tickell sister to Mr. Sheridan 
as 1 "A blue ground with red flowers upon it, in the 
shape of a slip, but evidently ill made on purpose and 
too scanty by a breadth or two. Her bib or apron had 
scarcely a pin, a pair of long gauze rufHes, the under 
part before, and continually slipping below her elbows, 
with a very vulgar cap all on one side." 

In the character of Miss Hoyden Dorothy Jordan 
won fame, and kept it. Yet in this part she never 
quite rivalled herself in that other popular character 
of Miss Tomboy in The Romp, the farce in which she 
acted in Dublin and which Kitty Clive had so 
identified with her own name. It was in this character 
that Romney painted his beautiful picture of her, and 
it was declared that this part alone stamped her as an 
actress as great in her own way as Mrs. Siddons was 
in hers. 

A curious result of Dorothy's first autumn in town 
was that the tragedy queen was touched to the heart 

1 Sheridan, by Walter Sichel 

Dorothy and the British Public 89 

by the girl's success, and at the end of October it was 
announced that she intended to appear in comedy, and 
"to render Thalia as fashionable as Melpomene." 
This was when Dorothy had acted only three times, 
and Mrs. Siddons's autocratic mind here showed itself ; 
it was as though she said : " An unimportant new 
person has come here to make the world laugh, so I 
will show how it should be done." Mrs. Siddons 
could brook no rival near her throne, but alas, for 
her pride as one of her daughters was born at the 
end of December she had to leave Dorothy supreme 
at Drury Lane. When she returned in February she 
found little pleasure awaiting her, for tragedy at Drury 
Lane had been worn down by endless repetition, and 
the public, delighted with its new sensation, reserved 
its enjoyment and its money for the comedy which 
Jordan offered them. That she might attract by 
novelty, Mrs. Siddons revived the somewhat feeble 
tragedy of Percy, and in The Merchant of Venice 
played her original trial part of Portia. 

Dorothy was acting so constantly that The Public 
'Advertiser remarked : ' That charming, endearing, 
beautiful, little, accomplished actress, Mrs. Jordan, 
makes us suffer more than we can describe, as we are 
always desirous to see her, and yet cannot help wish- 
ing her a rest from her fatigues. It is said that an 
application will be made to Parliament for leave of 
absence for a fortnight." She had two benefits in the 
spring, at one of which she played the Irish Widow, 
such an audience being collected as had been very 
seldom seen. Her triumph was increased by the fact 
that the members of Brooks's Club presented her with 
a purse containing 300. Another character which 
was very popular was her Hypolita in She Would 

90 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

and She Would Not, of which she said in 1814 when 
some one told her of the pleasure experienced in 
seeing her in it : " Aye, that was one of the parts on 
which I used to pique myself." 

Her labours had been so great that on May 25 the 
management gave her the last fortnight of the season 
as a holiday, and she immediately went for a few 
nights to Manchester, then to Liverpool and Birming- 
ham; after which she took Leeds on her way to 
Edinburgh, where she appeared on July 17. 

Her success had been equal to her energy, it had 
even been great enough for George Inchbald, who 
came up to London that spring, filled with the warmest 
protestations of love, and thinking to find again the 
Dorothy Jordan he had deliberately let out of his 
reach. On arriving at her house he sent up his card, 
and was admitted only to learn that the past was past 
and could never be recalled, or, as one chronicler puts 
it : " That he was always welcome to a knife and fork, 
but that nothing farther could thereafter be thought 
of seriously." There is no real record that this first 
season in London drew to Dorothy's side any admirer 
more devoted than the general flock, yet there is at 
least the suspicion that she may have fallen to the 
level of the parts she reproduced, and have taken a 
lover, whose name was Bettesworth. 

Posting from Birmingham to Scotland she could not 
resist the delight of going back to old haunts to flaunt 
her new impc ce before that varied company in 
which she had red so many pinpricks from jealous 

Mrs. Robins , the graceful and neat, was still 
there, and misc ievous fate must have been in her 
most ironic mood when she allowed Dorothy's arrival 

Dorothy and the British Public 91 

at Leeds on her way to Edinburgh to coincide with 
the benefit of the lady who had expressed so disdain- 
ful and pitying an opinion of the Jordan's powers. 
It was on the night of June 16, 1786, that Mrs. Robin- 
son disported herself as Horatio in The Roman Father 
and Widow Brady in the farce of The Irish Widow. 
The house was not good, indeed very inferior to that 
on her benefit the year before, when Mrs. Jordan was 
in the company. This was depressing enough in it- 
self, but when, early in the evening, Mrs. Robinson 
heard a murmur in the audience, and looking for the 
cause saw Mrs. Jordan attended by her mother and 
sister in one of the boxes, she felt that fate had indeed 
dealt hardly with her. Dorothy carefully ensured the 
attention of the house by her prominence, for now was 
her triumph not only over the rival of last year, but 
over the audience which had turned away from her at 
the same time. Now she, whom every one had re- 
garded as Mrs. Nobody, was Mrs. Somebody, and 
quite naturally she wanted to enjoy the fun that the 
old bitterness might be banished from her memory. 
Having well preened herself in the eyes of the cheer- 
ing people for her fame had spread " to the North 
Pole and excited offers of bewitching golden fire " 
she condescended to go behind scenes that she 
might greet her old manager, friends and acquaint- 
ances and ask them how they all did, " and not with- 
out an additional grace of an alluring nod and smile, 
which had been purchased at the ' don market of 
fashion, during a whole winter'si dence of good 
luck, fortune and everything th was enviable." 
Even the humorous and kindly \ idnson was not 
proof against the jealousy which Joi an's success had 
raised in the hearts of those of her old set, for the 

92 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

last sentence is his. That Dorothy enjoyed this little 
triumph is doubtless, but that her only emotion on 
being back in the scenes among which she had spent 
over three years of her life, and among people from 
whom she had experienced much kindness if some 
annoyance should have been a condescending ex- 
hibition of her own self-importance was not possible 
to one of her ardent and generous temperament. 
Wilkinson could never resist writing for effect, and 
also he did in this case read too much of his own 
suspicions into her conduct. 

His description of her effective but wordless inter- 
view with Mrs. Robinson on the stage is pure farce, 
and, however much exaggerated, makes too good a 
story not to be given in his own words. Mrs. Jordan 
went to an opening on the stage to watch the play, 
and stood in such fashion that she could be seen by 
the audience. " In short, by slow degrees she 
advanced so far on the stage, that at the fist-hold of 
her sister's arm she was at the very edge of the wing 
on the stage part; this was during the small clothes 
scene in The Irish Widow in the last act of that farce. 
This enraged the Widow Robinson to a degree. . . . 
She, however, kept up her spirits to let the Jordan 
see how well she could act, and with a sneer not the 
gentlest darted a glance at the Jordan, insinuating, 
' Can you act like this ? ' The other, with all the 
nonchalance of fashion, said a great deal without 
speaking even a word, for her gestures and pantomime 
actions were inimitable ; and as she leant on her sister, 
she pointed at Widow Brady's buckles, then at her 
figure, next with a shrug signifying that the whole was 
intolerable, and at last, after giving the torture in an 
elegant and truly significant manner, she gave her a 

Dorothy and the British Public 93 

last look and turned away with the grandest contempt 
and hauteur. Now it may be asked why I did not 
prevail on Mrs. Jordan to quit so improper a situation 
for herself, and cruel to a degree, as Mrs. J.'s marks 
of disapprobation were of great consequence in 
the minds of many that year, though the effect might 
have been widely different the year before. But in 
answer, it is probable that my request would not have 
been complied with, for the manager she had looked 
up to was no longer the man of terror and command, 
but then looked down upon if he dared to assume 
authority; and another hidden reason might be the 
cause, had my desire of her quitting so conspicuous a 
situation been complied with, it might not have given 
me the ill-natured satisfaction I enjoyed, for Mrs. 
Robinson had quarrelled violently with me the day 
before, and as I love a little mischief it is in my 
nature, and oh, Nature ! Nature ! who can stop thy 
course? I felt for Mrs. Robinson, yet at the same 
time I immoderately chuckled at the mischief I wit- 
nessed going forward. . . . Mrs. Robinson had fore- 
told that Mrs. Jordan would be back with me before 
twelve months were gone and over, and so far her gift 
of double sight was verified (so were the witches' 
prophecies in Macbeth), but not as either Mrs. Robin- 
son or Mr. Wilkinson expected, for instead of the 
suppliant she came splish, splasE, dish, dash, to the 
Leeds play-house, and tassles dangling, etc. Oh, it is 
a charming thing to be a woman of quality ! And in 
lieu of her asking me for an engagement, the case was 
so greatly altered, for I was obliged to solicit the lady 
who formerly solicited me, and it was no more than 
a comic adventure between us three, like a party of 
pleasure at a quadrille, where all should play and pay 

94 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

alike. * Ay, but/ says Mrs. Robinson, * you have made 
me at this game pay more than my share/ Well, Mrs. 
Robinson, never mind it, I will pay two-thirds at our 
next meeting to clear the debt; I am a rich man in 
that respect, and will deal most cheerfully and 
liberally, and I hope this nonsense will be read by the 
two ladies, as I mean it whimsically and for us all three 
to laugh at." In such an account, "whimsical," as it 
may have been, we get an impression of reality. Here 
are the real people, with no attempt on the writer's 
part either at whitewashing or at be-littling. Dorothy 
Jordan was no saint, yet some of her biographers have 
tried to glorify her into something other and less than 
she was, thus in The Great Illegitimates we are told 
that she went behind the scenes and, " with her accus- 
tomed sweetness of temper, renewed acquaintance with 
her former associates " ! Mrs. Robinson must have 
prayed devoutly to be delivered from any further taste 
of such sweetness. She probably also prayed for 
revenge, and that prayer was heard. 

That night Tate begged the actress who a year ago 
had been earning i us. 6d. a week under his care 
to play one night for him. She was quite willing, but 
she dictated her own terms, which were half shares 
after ,15 had been deducted for house expenses. 
This he instantly agreed to, not that he expected a 
great profit either for Mrs. Jordan or for himself ; but 
that he thought it would do him good in the public 
estimation to show her again on his boards. Her 
acting was well known in a town where she had played 
for four consecutive summers, and her last benefit had 
been quite neglected, so that except for the kudos the 
genial manager only expected an ordinary night. 

She played The Country Girl, which was new to 

Dorothy and the British Public 95 

Leeds, and The Romp, which was known almost to 
weariness; but to Wilkinson's astonishment the house 
was overflowing before the curtains were drawn. 
Seven rows of the pit "were laid into the boxes to 
greet her return/' which was rather hard on the pittites. 
:< What is to be said for these things ? Why, nothing, 
for it never was strange that the world should be 

At Edinburgh, where her brother George accom- 
panied her, though Wilkinson does not mention him 
in Leeds, Dorothy found her uncle John in the part of 
treasurer to the Theatre Royal, a man then over sixty ; 
and when she acted Peggy in The Country Girl her 
aunt took the part of Lucy and her cousin, John's 
eldest son, was Belville. Dolly, with her keen family 
instincts, must have enjoyed this unusual meeting 
with real relatives, and it is possible that the elder 
family were gratified by meeting and acting with one 
who was on the high road to success. 

John Bland, the elder, having gone to Edinburgh 
in 1766 to visit some relatives, lent a large sum of 
money to Ross, the manager, and put 1600 in the 
theatre. Thus he had sufficient interest to remain in 
the town, and in 1772 he joined West Digges as co- 
lessee of the theatre. It was not a fortunate engage- 
ment, for the latter got into great difficulties, was 
thrown into prison, and escaped, owing his comrade 
,1300. The theatre was left in Eland's hands, and 
swallowed everything else that he had. So that at 
last he had to close it from sheer inability to keep it 
going; but when Jackson, the next proprietor, took it 
he became treasurer. 

There are many stories of John Eland's absence of 
mind concerning the way in which he used to forget 

96 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

what part he was acting. On one such occasion he 
told the audience that " he vowed to his God he could 
not say how this happened, for he could appeal to 
Nancy that he had repeated the part to her that morn- 
ing as perfect as an angel/' Once, when the audience 
was so small that it was decided to return the money, 
he came forward on the stage, saying 

" Ladies and gentlemen, as there is not a soul in 
this house worth playing to, this play will be repeated 

I find that he, his wife, his eldest son and his son 
John were acting for years on the Edinburgh boards, 
and that they acted with Dorothy every time she went 
there until 1792, when John, the elder's name, seems 
to have been withdrawn. John Bland had the lovable 
qualities of his family and more than his share of 
general capacity, for he wrote a novel which was well 
reviewed, entitled Frederick the Forsaken, suggested 
perhaps by his own life, and he was also the author of 
the Edinburgh Rosclad as well as other publications. 
He died in 1808, and Carlisle says an annual sub- 
scription for his support was sent him from his family 
for some years previous to his death. So a moiety of 
the plenty which should have been his through life 
was grudgingly doled to him at the last to keep him 
from death. 

Perhaps if he, "a brave, proud, generous, affable, 
friendly, honest, unthinking man," 1 had had a touch 
of his father's hardness of character as the strengthen- 
ing alloy to so much gold, his life would have been 
more successful. 

In Edinburgh Dorothy had a great welcome, for 

1 Hibernian Magazine. 

Dorothy and the British Public 97 

this was her first appearance in Scotland ; but though 
the excitement over her acting was considerable, the 
newspapers gave her little notice, because Mrs. Sid- 
dons was there regarded as the only great woman actor, 
and the taste of the day had got well settled down to 
tragedy. It needed custom and usage to persuade the 
business-like Scot that Miss Tomboy and Dorothy's 
other characters were not over-frivolous. 

But " Thalia," a name by which her admirers had 
already begun to ennoble her, was well content with 
her reception, and on the 6th of August, when she 
played Mrs. Cowley's Belle's Stratagem for her 
benefit, she delivered an epilogue which she had 
written herself, one which, if somewhat lacking in 
metrical excellence, is graceful enough in sentiment 
to merit repetition. 

" Presumption 'tis, in learning's seat, 
For me the Muses to entreat ; 
Yet, bold as the attempt may be, 
I'll mount the steed of poesy ; 
And as my Pegasus is small, 
If stumbling, I've not far to fall. 

Hear then, ye Nine ! the boon I ask, 
While (throwing off the comic mask) 
With gratitude I here confess 
How much you've heightened my success. 

By sealing thus my sentence now, 
YouVe heaped new laurels on my brow ; 
Nor is the Northern sprig less green, 
Than that which in the South was seen ; 
For though your sun may colder be, 
Your hearts I've found as warm for me. 

One wreath I only gained before, 
But your kind candour gives me more ; 
And, like your union, both combine 
To make the garland brighter shine. 

'Tis true such planets 1 sparkled here 
As make me tremble to appear; 

1 An allusion to Mrs. Siddons. 

98 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

A twinkling star, just come in sight, 

Which, towards the pole, would give no light. 

Melpomene has made such work, 
Reigning despotic like the Turk ; 
I feared Thalia had no chance 
Her laughing standard to advance ; 
But yet her youngest ensign, I 
Took courage, was resolved to try, 
And stand the hazard of the die. 

Since then the venturous game I've tried, 

With Nature only for my guide ; 

The bets if fairly won I'll take 

Nor wish to make it my last stake." 

From Edinburgh she went to Glasgow, and there 
the audiences were so delighted that they presented 
her with a gold medal, bearing an inscription on one 
side with the Glasgow arms, a tree, and a verse on the 
other side with a feather above it. The first ran 


" MADAM, Accept this trifle from the Glasgow audience, who are as 
great admirers of genius as the critics of Edinburgh." 

The verse was as follows 

" Bays from our tree you could not gather, 

No branch of it deserves that name ; 
So take it all, call it a feather, 
And place it in your cap of fame." 

On her return journey in September she played at 
Hull and Wakefield, and at the latter place experi- 
enced a shock, for the Wakefield people were angry 
with Tate Wilkinson because he had brought Mrs. 
Siddons there for only one night and then taken her 
for a week to Leeds ; therefore they turned their backs 
upon his theatre and upon Dorothy. Wilkinson him- 
self explains the incident thus : " Melpomene's bowl 
and dagger having left such an awful gloom, that even 
Thalia could not laugh, or, if she did, it was very 
mortifying, as it was to herself almost without 
company or any throng of visitors." 




Thou bane to my empire, thou spring o contest, 
Thou source of all discord, thou period to rest ; 
Instruct me what wretches in bondage can see, 
That the aim of their life is still pointed to thee. 


Instruct me, thou little impertinent god, 

From whence all thy subjects have taken the mode 

To grow fond of a change, to whatever it be, 

And I'll tell thee why those would be bound who are free. 

VANBRUGH, The Relapse. 

IN September 1786, Dorothy made a great impres- 
sion upon the public as Matilda in the curious play 
of Richard Cceur de Lion, curious because General 
Burgoyne, who adapted it from the French play of 
Sedane, made Matilda and Blondel one and the same 
person, thus giving greater scope to Dorothy, for whom 
he designed that part. She threw herself enthusiasti- 
cally into this character, for the disguised and sorrow- 
ful wife wandering through Europe to look for the 
lost husband, appealed to her love of sentiment. 
" Another character wherein I took infinite delight was 
Matilda, in Richard Cceur de Lion, because it strongly 
savoured of the pathetic," she said thirty years later, 
when talking with Helen Maria Williams, now for- 
gotten, but then well known for her writings on Paris 
and the Revolution. This new play was a favourite for 
years, but it had to share the boards with tragedy, and 
in October Mrs. Siddons made a sensation in the 


ioo The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

play of Cleone, by Dodsley. In this she so affected 
the ladies among the audience that on the second 
night the boxes were nearly empty. The critics 
attributed this to the frivolous atmosphere which 
had come over the stage with the advent of Mrs. 
Jordan, one adding that "the refined feelings of the 
present time affect to revolt at tragedies where insi- 
pidity does not prevail." Boaden, however, in more 
downright fashion says that it was truly distressing to 
see Mrs. Siddons in the agonies of Cleone a mother 
raving over her murdered child only a little month 
before her own confinement. "If there be anything 
whatever in stage exertion, Cleone was quite enough, 
one would think, to destroy her." 

From the very first, the sense of rivalry was keen 
between Dorothy and the great Siddons, and this 
became to our actress one of the most disturbing 
influences in these years when she was achieving 
and the latter had won fame. In temperament and 
character they were as far as the poles apart, and Mrs. 
Siddons did nothing to hide the scorn she felt for her 
rival, while Dorothy chafed always under the sense of 
inferiority with which Mrs. Siddons burdened her. 
This rivalry led both to take characters which were 
most unsuited to them, though Dorothy always was 
troubled with a desire to act sentimental parts. In a 
conversation with Miss Williams, she said 

" During the very zenith of my career in the walk of 
comedy, I still had a strong hankering after the 
sentimental ; I was always gratified in the extreme when 
it fell to my lot to sustain characters of such a cast. 
For instance, when I personified Little Pickle in 
The Spoiled Child, in the particular scene where I 

Rivalry and Love 101 

sang * Since then I'm doomed/ I uniformly called up 
everything I could, expressive of the pathetic, as well 
in countenance as voice and manner, on which 
occasions nothing was so truly gratifying to my feelings 
as the applause which followed ; mind, I do not merely 
allude to the air, but the verbal delivery of my part, 
which never failed in producing its effect upon my 

She also had a wish to shine in polite comedy, in 
spite of the fact that her real strength lay in depicting 
simple, arch, buoyant girls, or spirited, loving women ; 
and in spite of that other fact that she thoroughly 
enjoyed acting handsome hoydens. Mrs. Siddons, 
on the contrary, could only show the height of her 
great powers in tragedy. These two were, in truth, the 
complement of each other in the dramatic world, 
needing only such graceful if artificial actresses as 
Miss Farren to play the high-born dame in comedy to 
complete the circle. But this they never seemed to 
realize, and there were two historic trials of strength 
between them. The one was when Dorothy took the 
part of Imogen in Cymbeline. She had tried it in 
Yorkshire, attaining no great success. In London she 
did little better, for she lacked that delicate dignity 
which Imogen needs in some of her scenes. Yet the 
ordinary public, willing by this time to applaud any- 
thing she did, were delighted. Mrs. Siddons must 
have revelled in the real failure of Dorothy on this 
occasion, and to prove to every one that it was a failure, 
she announced for her benefit in the spring of 1787, 
that she would take the part of Imogen. Thomas 
Campbell, her admiring biographer, declared that he 
believed that she only did it to prove that she could 

io2 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

beat Mrs. Jordan; and he concluded his account of the 
evening by recording that by acting Imogen only once, 
our actress put a stop to Mrs. Jordan's competition 
with her on the graver stage. Imogen, having to 
repulse Cloten, and to rebuke lachimo, requires not 
only sweetness, but dignity of demeanour. Of the 
latter princely quality, the lovely and romping Mrs. 
Jordan had not a particle. 

The poet was too intent on the play and the actress 
to note that which the less concentrated mind thought 
of importance. For Mrs. Siddons's sense of delicacy 
was so great that her sense of propriety suffered. She 
was filled with horror at the idea of dressing as a boy. 
So she wrote to Hamilton, the artist, asking him if he 
would be so good as to make her a sketch of a boy's 
dress to conceal the figure as much as possible. And 
she appeared in a nondescript apparel which excited 
mirth among the laughter-loving part of her audience. 
Boaden described the incident rather well when he 
said : " A taste, which I will neither censure nor 
examine on the present occasion, calls upon females 
who assume the male habit for a more complete display 
of the figure than suits the decorum of a delicate mind. 
Mrs. Siddons assumed as little of the man as possible, 
so that the most powerful scenes were those in the 
dress of her sex." 

But though Mrs. Siddons came out victor in this 
trial, it was Mrs. Jordan to whom the crown was given, 
when they competed as Rosalind in As You Like it. 
The former had played this part in a benefit some time 
earlier, but she had not the qualities of roguishness 
and lightness it required, and she was too squeamish to 
take the manly dress in a manly spirit. For that 

Rivalry and Love 103 

part she had other garments designed for her, which, 
also, were suitable neither for man nor woman, and 
so drew much ridicule upon her stately head, a ridicule 
which Genest trenchantly said was very deserved; 
" she had it at her option to act Rosalind or not to act 
Rosalind but, determined to act the part, she should 
have dressed properly." Campbell mournfully and 
grudgingly admitted that if her impersonation was 
not entirely a failure she had equally fallen short of 
triumph. " Here, I believe, in the whole of her pro- 
fessional career, Mrs. Siddons found a rival, who beat 
her out of a single character. But those who best 
remember Mrs. Jordan will be the least surprised at 
her defeating her great contemporary in this one 
instance. Mrs. Jordan was, perhaps, a little too much 
of the romp in some touches of the part ; but altogether 
she had the naivete of it to such a degree that Shake- 
speare himself, if he had been a living spectator, would 
have gone behind the scenes to have saluted her for her 

success in it.' 3 

While the conclusion of his paragraph was the 
highest praise Dorothy Jordan could have received, the 
first sentence was scarcely fair to her, for she played 
many parts in which Mrs. Siddons would have been 

Among the characters which added to Dorothy's 
popularity were Miss Prue, in Love for Love; Juletta 
to Kemble's Pedro in The Pilgrim, by Fletcher, and 
Roxalana in The Sultan. In the last, Barrymore took 
the part of the Grand Turk, and he found Roxalana 
so fascinating that he could not always properly sustain 
the character of the stern Bashaw. On quitting the 
boards one night he ran into the Green Room, threw 

104 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

himself on a sofa, and after indulging in a laugh that 
was nearly suffocating, turned to Mrs. Jordan, saying, 
" By the Holy Prophet, madam, if you continue to play 
after this fashion you will despatch me in an agony of 
laughter to the seventh heaven, there to enjoy my 
houris everlastingly." 

Mrs. Jordan was very busy that autumn and in the 
early part of 1787, after which her name appears less 
frequently in the lists. This does not mean that she 
was always absent unless her presence was reported, 
but she really did not act so often, and for this there 
were several causes. 

There were the Kembles always to be considered, 
and Dorothy's activity in the winter is to be explained 
by the fact that Mrs. Siddons was again absent from 
the theatre, for family reasons. When she was back 
at work there was naturally less scope for her rival's 

During this first year in London there is silence 
about Dorothy's private life. She lived in Henrietta 
Street with her family, but the newspapers were con- 
cerned solely with her theatrical triumphs. A great 
deal has been said about her absolute integrity, and her 
freedom from the sins of her sister actresses, though 
one biographer, shocked at her wifely connection 
with the Duke of Clarence, called her a degraded 
woman, who had brought disgrace upon an honourable 
profession. This was pure nonsense, for the general 
life of an actress, then, was far from being as respect- 
able as Dorothy's, and when one was high-minded 
like Mrs. Siddons, it was regarded as a miracle. 
Society had pronounced the actress a pariah, and gave 
her no temptation to be a saint. 

Rivalry and Love 105 

In December 1786 a sketch of Mrs. Jordan ap- 
peared in The Town and Country Magazine, one 
paragraph of which began with the words : " Mrs. 
Jordan has always been prudent in her amours. Her 
present favourite is not the choice of love." Then 
comes a description of the man who, having great 
influence at the theatre, had convinced her that it was 
to her advantage to accept his suit. This proves one 
thing and infers another ; the proven thing being that 
before that date Dorothy was known to be the mistress 
of Richard Ford. But the first words hint that there 
had been some one else who had also appealed to her 
prudence. If such an inference may be drawn, this 
some one else was a man of property named Bettes- 
worth, for, twenty years after, one of her daughters was 
stated to be the child of an old gentleman named 
Bettesworth, who had left her money on the condition 
that she took his name. This, however, comes later. 

Much has been written about the statement that 
Dorothy only yielded to Ford on the solemn promise 
that he would make her his wife. Boaden, in his desire 
to please the Duke of Clarence, makes scarcely any 
mention of the Ford connection, which, however, lasted 
for five years, and no light is thrown by him on the 
subject. The Great Illegitimates, however, asserts it 
was accompanied by " a solemn promise of marriage, 
which the gentleman said must be deferred, under the 
dread of giving offence to his father, on whom he was 
dependent; when, confiding in the honour and 
promises of her suitor, Mrs. Jordan at length consented 
to place herself under his protection." 

If this was so, it was not unlikely that Dorothy 
was willing to give up a rich, but married lover, for a 

io6 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

young and impecunious man ; for her great desire was 
to be a legally wedded wife. Ford was the son of Dr, 
James Ford, of Albemarle Street, Court physician and 
favourite, who had a very heavy monetary interest in 
Drury Lane, being at one time the sole capitalist, 
holding a mortgage of 31,500 on the theatre. Thus, 
Richard Ford was free to come and go just as he 
pleased; and, being a friend of Sheridan's, he seems 
to have taken full advantage of his position, even to 
the falling in love with Dorothy. There is no record 
that he had any particular ability beyond that of 
generally managing to attain his ends, and he has left 
but a shadowy character behind, with few to praise. 
Boaden said of him, that of all the men he had ever 
known there was none about whom there was so little 
to say. He asked men of Ford's standing at the Bar 
and on the Bench their recollections of him, and adds, 
' They knew him as I did personally, but he had 
impressed their minds as a fly did their hands, they had 
just shaken it and it was gone." 

When the struggle over the promise and the taking 
of the name, Mrs. Ford, began it is not easy to say, but 
the two took a house, No. 5 Gower Street, some time 
in 1787, Dorothy calling herself privately Mrs. Ford, 
though all their friends of course knew that they were 
not married. Later, a little place was taken at Rich- 
mond, probably for the babies that quickly arrived, and 
as a week-end resort. In May 1787, a gossiping para- 
graph in a daily paper ran to the effect that " Mrs. 
Jordan, generally styled the daughter of Thalia, will 
soon make the Muse a grandmother." From time to 
time Dorothy used all her arts to induce this man of her 
choice to retrieve his promise by fulfilment, but always 

Rivalry and Love 107 

unsuccessfully. In relation to this it is interesting 
to note as an example of the far-seeing wisdom of the 
ancient writer who declared that there is nothing new 
under the sun that in The Great Illegitimates runs 
the sentence, " She was fed up with the hopes that the 
old doctor would be reconciled to the match, and the 
consummation of the nuptials was never supposed on 
her part to be half a year distant." 

Fed up ! To think that even our street slang is but 
a thing pilfered from the mouths of our forefathers ! 

Whether Richard Ford ever intended to fulfil his 
plighted word cannot be known ; he had, however, done 
a very good thing for himself in forming this alliance. 
Dorothy's salary, to begin with, was not to be despised 
by a man who, in addition to the paternal allowance, 
was living on hoped-for briefs; her benefits two in a 
season doubled that salary, and her summer tours 
added some hundreds of pounds to her exchequer. 
Not a great fortune in all, but a very welcome addition 
to a budding barrister's fees. 

Though comment was fast and free upon this union, 
Dorothy's popularity and a general sympathetic belief 
in the honesty of her situation induced society to look 
with kindliness upon her, and she was well received in 
various circles. Among her friends she counted the 
man who had championed her father through his life, 
had probably carried his dead body back to Ireland, 
and had raised a stone to his memory, Sir Francis 
Lumm ; Lady Lumm accepted Dorothy as Mrs. Ford, 
though she knew the truth concerning the alliance, and 
pressed invitations to her routs and parties upon her. 
Cards and card-sharping were the great amusement 
of the time, but Dorothy is said never to have touched 

io8 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

a card. Among the noted players to be met there was 
Lady Collier " famed for pilfering card money " 
others were the Miss Dalrymples, Captain William 
Bayley, brother to Lord Anglesey, and his wife, John 
Foster Hill and his wife, Lady Anne, a daughter of 
Lord Molesworth; which seems to prove that the 
intimacy lasted a long time, as the Hills did not marry 
until 1792. The author of The Great Illegitimates 
who speaks of himself as a mere stripling at the time 
says of Dorothy at these gatherings : 

" Our heroine's affability of manners and sweetness 
of deportment were the general themes of admiration, 
a sentiment still more enhanced when she electrified 
the auditors by warbling one of her ballads wild, 

That flowed like softest music 

O'er the placid surface of the deep.' " 

That in the late spring of 1787 Dorothy expected a 
child to be born to her would be one reason why she 
did not act constantly, and another was a certain 
feeling against her irrespective of the Kembles in 
the theatre, one which emanated from the manager, 
Tom King. 

He had at first been delighted to hail the girl who 
could raise the revenue of the establishment, but her 
acting was not really pleasant to him. He was nearly 
sixty years old, and had been bred in a theatrical 
atmosphere too rarefied for the goddess Nature. All 
acting went by rule to his thinking; Tragedy was the 
stately Mrs. Siddons; Comedy was a gentle lady who 
curtsied and walked with mincing step, laid hand to 
heart, and in high-falutin strain protested this and 
that ; in all circumstances she dressed and powdered to 

Rivalry and Love 109 

perfection, exhibited an affected graciousness, and 
otherwise belonged to his early days. 

Dorothy Jordan, whose laugh came from her heart, 
who dressed for her part without shame or vanity, 
shocked him and upset all his sententious mannerisms. 
How could he, being what he was, act comfortably 
with her, she being what she was? So, for his prin- 
ciple's sake, he began to edge her off the stage ; he put 
on pieces which needed the affected ways of Miss 
Farren, or the pretty sprightliness of Mrs. Crouch; for 
fine ladies were his delight. This tendency became a 
habit, and Dorothy found herself relegated to second 
place in the theatre; though it was not so with the 
public, who gathered in little crowds round the stage 
door, only to see her step into her carriage, and talked 
of her salary, her success and her parts. 

Yet she played sufficiently not to be forgotten, and 
her benefits were crowded, her receipts on such 
occasions often being larger than those of any other 
actor. Thus in May 1788 her benefit night brought 
her ^325, while Kemble's produced 290, Bannister's 
(senior) 300, Bannister's (junior) 295, and Mrs. 
Crouch 280. 

Perhaps disgusted with the managerial partiality, 
or perhaps for other and more personal reasons, 
Dorothy went north at the end of May 1787, before 
Drury Lane had closed, and acted again for Tate 
Wilkinson at Leeds, the theatre being brilliantly 
attended among the audience the Duke of Norfolk 
and a crowd of his friends were prominent. Yet before 
her Yorkshire visit was over, the hurt feelings which 
had prompted her rush from London were revived by 
the knowledge that Miss Farren was billed at York and 

no The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Hull in some of her own comedy pieces. Perhaps it 
was this little piece of independence on the part of 
Tate Wilkinson for she considered Miss Farren's 
talent to be too near akin to her own to share so small 
a field which induced her to play a trick on him; at 
least, he considered it as such. She recommended a 
Miss Barnes as a diamond of the first water, which was 
not sufficiently valued at Drury Lane. So Wilkinson 
engaged Miss Barnes, and appointed Juliet for her 
first appearance, "but the London lady's Juliet was 
very kissing hot, indeed, so much so, that she never 
played with me again. This was a joke to Mrs. Jordan 
but not so with me," he adds. 

Dorothy appeared in Edinburgh as early as June 
7, and continued to act until the middle of July, 
though she did not leave the society of her kinsmen in 
the northern town until well into September, as a girl 
was born to her at the end of August. Was this child 
the Miss Bettesworth who enjoyed a brief period of 
prominence in 1806, or was she really Ford's daughter? 
When the newspapers were anticipating the opening of 
the theatres, one of Dorothy's champions in The Public 
Advertiser announced coarsely, under the headlines of 
" Shirley : Owner. The Jordan from Edinburgh a 
small sprightly vessel went out of the London 
harbour laden dropt her cargo in Edinburgh. The 
Siddons, been to refit was said to be damaged in her 
upper works," etc. 

By Richard Ford, Dorothy had four children, that 
is, including this girl, born in 1787; only one was a 
boy, and he died at birth. In 1792, The Morning Post 
described her family as four, one being Frances Daly, 

Rivalry and Love 1 1 1 

In 1798, the Fashionable Cypriad also gave her four 
girls, in addition to the then existing Fitzclarences, 
but in Boaden, Harrington and The Great Illegitimates 
only three girls, Frances, Dorothea and Lucy, are 
ever named. This is somewhat mysterious, and would 
be more so if it were not that all the accounts are 
based upon two, and these two designed to hide every- 
thing that did not redound to the credit of the subject 
of the biography. Thus it was quite possible to lose 
all trace of one of the girls, about whom there may 
have been some untoward story of her birth. 

Mrs. Jordan came back to her work in the autumn 
of 1787, to find matters rather worse than better at 
Drury Lane. The theatre was ruled, not by its acting 
manager, Tom King, but by its actual manager and 
part proprietor, R. B. Sheridan, who had little time to 
attend to the needs of the drama; as King said, when 
he had appointments with him he was always in " a 
great hurry, or surrounded by company," and further 
declared that he had no power to refuse or accept a 
play, to appoint or discharge an actor, nor even to buy 
a yard of copper lace to add to a coat, " which was so 
much wanted." Thus, between one authority and 
another, or rather because of the want of properly 
delegated authority, the theatre was starved, and the 
company was deeply dissatisfied. King and Kemble 
were often at variance, so that for all concerned con- 
ditions were fast drifting to an impasse. In such a 
state Dorothy stood little chance, with King's dis- 
approbation on the one hand, and on the other "the 
great uneasiness in the house of Kemble/' which, it is 
said, led brother and sister to take every opportunity to 
lessen her importance. 

ii2 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Another source of great trouble to Dorothy was that 
Mrs. Robinson, who had married again, and was 
now Mrs. Taylor, had secured an engagement at Drury 
Lane, and was bent on proving herself the better 
actress of the two. Failing in this one critic said, 
" On the stage Mrs. Taylor has less fear than we have 
for her " she bent her energies constantly to annoying 
Dorothy, in and out of season, and used every art to 
make the other performers dislike her. Thus Dorothy 
was anything but happy in her work, she acted less 
than usual, and her popularity was said to have 
waned. This was rather a newspaper announcement 
than a real fact, and was founded on her absence from 
the stage, for which absence the initial and most im- 
portant reason was a long and severe illness. She bore 
her children quickly, and seems to have suffered much 
in health at intervals through the period of gestation ; 
so both public and employers, getting annoyed at 
these recurring absences, began a habit which lasted 
many years of calling her a malingerer. A comic 
opera had been projected, Love in the East, by 
James Cobb, with music by Linley, in which Dorothy 
was to have a chief part, thus there was especial 
anxiety for her reappearance; so the paragraphists 
were, as usual, busy with her name, and they found out 
or invented explanations which would please their 
public, and insinuated trouble between Ford and 
Dorothy, with consequent sulks on her part. That 
there should have been quarrels can scarcely be sur- 
prising, for she had lived with Richard Ford eighteen 
months, had borne him a child, and still he had not 
redeemed his promise of marrying her. 

In the heyday of his passion for her Ford had 

Rivalry and Love 1 1 3 

probably meant what he said, but his father still lived, 
and had the power materially to aid his career. Dr. 
Ford was at that time trying to realize his capital, one 
way being to sell what remained of his share in Drury 
Lane for 17,500, and Richard Ford may have been 
made nervous as to his father's intentions when he 
retired as he wished to do. Before the end of the year 
the doctor did retire, the papers said with a fortune 
of 100,000. 

Gossip also asserted that Dorothy, being known as 
Mrs. Ford, was determined to act under that name, 
but that King absolutely refused so to bill her, while 
she, on her part, refused to play otherwise, and had 
resigned her salary. In answer to this Dorothy wrote 
to the papers giving a positive denial to the statement 
that she declined performing until she was announced 
in a manner different from what she had been, and 
asserting that a long continuance of severe illness 
had alone been the cause of her absence. This, how- 
ever, was regarded as not true, and the heckling 

By this time Ford had entered Parliament as a 
member for Grinstead, and through Sheridan's interest 
probably hoped for some good post under government, 
being at the same time ambitious for high honours. 
Thus, if he was looking to the future, he may have 
considered that the woman who had yielded to him in 
trust could not be deemed worthy of so great a person- 
age as himself. On the other hand, he may have 
learned hidden matters about the Bettesworth affair, 
which changed his intentions. 

It may have been, too, that Dorothy's family in- 
fluenced him, for to most of them her purse was con- 

H4 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

stantly opened. There were her mother and four or five 
brothers and sisters, most of whom seemed incapable of 
becoming independent. No one could have expected 
it of the mother, who, though not much over fifty, was 
at that time far from the possibility of earning her 
living, and Dorothy never gave any sign of even 
thinking her a burden, for she was the most loving of 

Of the brothers, family papers say that Francis, 
probably the eldest, was, in his turn, called Captain 
Bland; he may have been in the militia, the navy, or 
the army, but the army lists for that period do not go 
so far back. He was a wild and reckless person, and 
for a long period an expense to his sister, always 
begging from her, and receiving help. 

Nathaniel was never a charge upon Dorothy. He 
was sent to Brasenose College, Oxford, by his aunt, 
and matriculated in October 1786, taking his B.A. in 
1790. What occupation he followed later is not 
known, but he settled down at Trelethyn, and married 
a lady named Phoebe James, sister-in-law of the Rev. 
William Richardson, vicar and canon of St. David's. 
Having no children, these Blands adopted a boy, 
nephew to Mrs. Nathaniel. 

As for George, the third boy, he seems generally to 
have hung on to Dorothy's fortunes, being the cause 
of considerable friction between Dorothy, who wanted 
him to be included in the Drury Lane company, and 
first King and then Kemble, both of whom refused to 
admit him, though Kemble eventually gave way. 

The eldest sister, Hester, lived with Dorothy for 
years, often acting in minor parts, but the date on 
which she went to Trelethyn and settled down is lost, 

Rivalry and Love 1 1 5 

as is also the date on which the younger sister became 
a charge upon Mrs. Jordan. 

This younger sister and one of Dorothy's daughters 
it is suggested in family papers that her name was also 
Hester remain but shadowy people in this record, 
for they did little to become known or to be reported 
in the papers, yet here and there evidence of their 
existence is given. 

Of all these at this time George was the best known 
weight upon his sister, who could see nothing for him 
but a stage career ; year after year she pressed his name 
upon the manager, and year after year that gentleman, 
like Ford, sought to soothe her with promises. 

Though Tat-e Wilkinson does not mention him, 
George was with her each time she went to Edinburgh, 
and he was also with her at Cheltenham, besides acting 
in the provinces whenever an opening could be secured 
for him. Occasional and not always good-natured 
references were made to him in the papers ; such as : 
' The male Jordan, brother of the Romp of that name, 
who has been on the Northern tour with his sister, and 
performed several characters, particularly in the sing- 
ing line, is, we hear, to try his skill at the old Drury 
this winter." These would generally be followed by a 
counter announcement to such effect as (The Public 
Advertiser] : " The brother of Mrs. Jordan, who has to 
boast much of her archness and comic power, is not yet 
to appear at Drury Lane." Thus one gathers that 
disappointment after disappointment waited upon 
Dorothy and George, and it is only possible to think 
that the cause was the young man's own inefficiency, for 
the management had many chances of studying him, 
and were always keen to secure a clever actor. He, 

n6 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

like Nathaniel, must have been a gentle and, to some 
extent, a retiring man ; personally, he was said to have 
been remarkably like Dorothy both in feature, height, 
and slimness of figure. 

Now, to all the unsuccessful members of her family 
Dorothy was lavish with money, and it must be ad- 
mitted that if she earned much she also spent much 
though history shows no evidence of personal extrava- 
gance on her part; Ford may have disliked the 
presence of so many of Dorothy's people about the 
house, and still more have disliked her spending 
money on them. But, on the whole, there must have 
been a great gulf fixed between the characters of the 
two ; Ford, with a trained legal mind, alive to the value 
of pounds, shillings, and pence, as stepping-stones; 
and Dorothy, born and bred in Bohemia, nursed in 
the midst of financial difficulty, and endowed with an 
unusually generous nature. It is a marvellous thing 
that, however they lived, together or parted, there is 
no recorded word of Dorothy's derogatory to Richard 
Ford, and though later many journals fought a public 
battle over their separation, she let them say, and kept 
a discreet silence. 



" Sweet child of nature, born to pleasure, 
Decked with Thalia's dearest treasure, 
Armed with smiles all hearts to gain, 
With love and laughter in thy train ; 
While with every changing scene 
Fresh graces deck thy comic mien. 
Thy wild notes sweetly thrill the heart, 
By nature taught, disdaining art ; 
No laboured sounds distort thy face, 
All's done with nature's simple grace." 

ANON. To /?./., as Harry Wildair. 

IT was not until the beginning of April 1788, the 
5th to be precise, that Dorothy appeared again on 
the stage, having given up her part in Love in the 
East, which was produced in February. She knew 
that, much as her voice charmed the public, it was not 
sufficient to carry on the sustained effort of an opera. 
For this reason, when a year or two later, an attempt 
was made to include her services in the oratorio which 
took place annually at Drury Lane, she first hesitated 
and then definitely refused. 

In spite of the reports of her unpopularity, the house 
was crowded for her benefit on May 2, when she played 
Harry Wildair in The Constant Couple for the first 
time, and she was so enthusiastically received in it that 
she gave the play renewed life for twenty years. 

Her part abounded in sprightly dainty repartee, 
and her slight, beautiful figure was shown to perfection 
in the picturesque dress of the dissolute young man, 
Harry Wildair, that stage apology for immorality 


n8 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

which so delighted the good people of the period, who 
could never make the two ends of ideal and practice 
meet. John Adolphus in his Memoirs of Bannister 
fairly well puts the matter in saying that " the display 
of manly virtue at the close when a gentleman of high 
breeding and indisputable courage chooses to make 
honourable reparation to a lady for an undesigned 
affront, rather than extricate himself by means of a 
duel, throws around him a charm which makes us not 
only forget, but absolutely love the levities and the 
faults which before required all the charm of his wit 
and his graces barely to palliate/' 

At the end of the play it was Dorothy's business, 
as chief male character, to announce the next per- 
formance, which was to be All for Love on the Monday, 
and, with her acute sense of public feeling, she ended 
her announcement with the words spoken in the most 
respectful and kindly way, " being for the benefit of 
Mistress Siddons." At once the audience was newly 
captured, and burst into loud applause at her magna- 
nimity, for all the world knew the feeling which 
existed in Siddonian circles against their Thalia. 

Of Dorothy one critic said the next day that "her 
voice was sweet and distinct, and she played rakes 
with the airiest grace and handsomest leg that had been 
seen on the stage for a long time." Indeed, "the 
symmetry of her lower parts," to quote Boaden, was 
a constant inspiration to the journalistic pen. A year 
or two later one of the monthly magazines published 
a picture in which Mrs. Jordan, as Harry Wildair, and 
Mrs. Crouch were depicted as comparing the beauty 
of their silk-hosed legs for the judgment of the Prince 
of Wales and the Duke of Clarence. 

Success and Failure 1 1 9 

Dorothy, however, played little this spring, in spite 
of the warm appreciation at her benefit, though she 
went on until June 13; and in July she, for the first 
time, acted at Cheltenham, taking with her her brother 
George, who had a part at a pound a week. This was 
the summer in which the mental illness of the King 
began, and he had gone to Cheltenham, hoping to 
regain the health which was so subtly and fearfully 
leaving him. So quick-witted Dorothy saw her oppor- 
tunity, and arranged an engagement with the manager 
of the little Theatre Royal there. The Court, includ- 
ing the King and Queen, went to see her act several 
times, and her benefit night was again a triumph, an 
announcement being made that a gold medal was in 
course of manufacture for her, which the nobility and 
gentry of the countryside desired to present. 

This medal took the form of an " elegant medallion 
locket," richly set on one side with fine pearls, in the 
centre of which was a beautiful painting of the comic 
muse, from Sir Joshua Reynolds's picture. On the 
reverse was placed in blue enamel an oval of fine 
brilliants, and in the centre the following inscription 
in gold letters on white enamel 

" Presented to Mrs. Jordan. Thalia's sweetest child." 

The Drury Lane troubles through that spring and 
summer became acute and the company gradually 
disintegrated. King distrusted Kemble's more 
advanced ideas, and Kemble unwillingly submitted 
to King's old-fashioned ways; Gentleman Smith 
backed up King, yet felt himself out of the centre of 
things. The Kembles were afraid of Mrs. Jordan's 
popularity, and Mrs. Jordan hated them for their air 
of superiority and their power to put her in the shade ; 

120 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

there was no love lost between Miss Farren and Mrs. 
Crouch on the one hand, and Dorothy on the other. 
She had to see them take parts which she regarded as 
peculiarly her own, and they knew that the public 
laughed louder and more heartily at and with her than 
it did at them. Mrs. Siddons often, as at her benefit 
this year, ranged herself among the comedy actresses 
rather than let Dorothy become too prominent. 
Sheridan's constant money troubles made him cut 
down the expenses of the theatre to such a close 
margin that King could put on no new plays, and had 
ever to ring the changes on the old, with the result 
that though he had the four greatest performers of the 
day in the theatre, Harris easily outrivalled him at 
Covent Garden. 

Some of the older actors grew tired of the struggle, 
and the first to give up was Gentleman Smith, termed 
by Churchill in The Rosciad, " Smith the genteel, 
the airy, and the smart," who announced his retirement 
from Drury Lane and any other stage in April 1788, 
and made his last appearance on the Qth of June; 
thus weakening King's hands and strengthening those 
of Kemble. Palmer and Parsons drifted away, and 
then King, seeing three of his own supporters disap- 
pear, sent in his resignation and, to make it irrevoc- 
able, left London the same day. Indeed, the personnel 
of the theatre seemed to be almost in the condition of 
the " one-hoss shay," that is of suddenly and entirely 
falling to pieces. 

In the autumn the company was without a manager, 
for King was gone and Kemble was standing out for 
his own terms, including a certain amount of free- 
dom in internal arrangements; in fact, he intended 

Success and Failure 121 

to be manager and not just a buffer between Sheridan 
and all the small troubles incidental to a theatre. He 
gained his way, of course, for Sheridan had no choice. 

When the Duke of Clarence, known then as Prince 
William, was first attracted to Dorothy no one can 
say; but during October of 1788 he was at the theatre 
to see the first performance of Love for Love, a play 
which Genest described as without a spark of honour 
or virtue in any person. 

Bannister Junior took the part of Ben the sailor, 
and entering the Green Room on the first night ready 
to appear on the stage, he found the Prince there, and 
was subjected to a critical examination. 

"What!" said William, "would you wear that 
coloured handkerchief round your neck? That must 
be changed." 

Upon this a black handkerchief was found, and 
" the good-natured, open-hearted Prince assisted with 
his own hand " to give it the correct position and knot, 
and in other ways he helped to make the actor as like 
as possible to a genuine son of the ocean. 

It is not likely that so soon as this the Prince was 
attracted to Dorothy, for her second Ford child was 
born either in October or November, so she was not 
in the theatre. On the 22nd of the latter month The 
Morning Post declared that it would be an advantage 
to Drury Lane when Mrs. Jordan recovered, as hers 
were the only bills from that quarter that were duly 

While she was away from the theatre Mrs. Inch- 
bald's farce, The Child of Nature, was first played at 
Covent .Garden, with Miss Brunton in the chief part, 
and on seeing it George Saville Carey, dramatist, 

122 The Story 01 Dorothy Jordan 

author of The Nut-brown Maid, and son of the man 
who wrote " God Save the King," sent two verses to 
The Morning Post, which fixed the name of " Child 
of Nature " on Dorothy for evermore. 

" The play, Fair Inchbald, surely is miscalled, 

I fain would have you name the brat again ; 
That name was surely long ago forestalled, 
The Child of Nature is at Drury Lane. 

"Yet am I pleased with thy prolific Muse, 

Nor would I wish to check thy rising fame, 
Nature thought fit a favourite to choose, 
The world approved, and Jordan is her name." 

Through that winter Dorothy acted constantly and 
in several new parts. She was Beatrice in a play by 
Bickerstaff, renamed by Kemble The Panel; The 
Impostors was written specially for her by Cumber- 
land, but it was weak in construction, and, to the 
author's disgust, who blamed Dorothy, it only ran four 
nights. She took Rosalind for her benefit in Decem- 
ber, played in Vanbrugh's Confederacy, while the old 
plays, The Devil to Pay and The Romp held their 
own. The latter being in book form, published at one 
shilling, was dedicated by the author to Mrs. Jordan 
in the following words : " You have made the piece 
particularly your own by your happy conception and 
admirable representation of the principal character, 
and have raised this bagatelle to an importance which 
the most sanguine partiality of its author could never 
have hoped for. You have rescued it from oblivion 
and fostered it with the exertion of your splendid 
talents, and it is now respectfully offered to your 

In her desire to become known as a mistress of 
polite comedy perhaps she also wished to show that 

Success and Failure 123 

she could equal Miss Farren on her own ground 
Dorothy took the part of Lady Bell in Know Your 
Own Mind, which the critics agreed in thinking less 
than admirable; Boaden describing her in this repre- 
sentation of a fine lady as " a smart soubrette, who had 
hurried on her ladies' finest apparel, and overacted the 
character to avoid being detected." 

But in spite of a mistake of this sort Dorothy 
Jordan this winter sealed her fame for all time, and, 
as a writer in The Dramatic Magazine somewhat 
vulgarly says, she " fairly beat Melpomene " (Mrs. 
Siddons as typifying tragedy) " out of the field." 
Another opinion, published in The Rambler, assured 
the public that : " Few actresses have so suddenly 
gained or, indeed, so well deserved the universal 
approval of the town as Mrs. Jordan. She has given 
celebrity to several dramatic pieces that but for her 
would never most probably have been revived." And 
later the same writer added : " Nothing can be a greater 
proof of excellence than that her spritely, animated 
Miss Tomboy occasioned the revival of The Romp, 
which had an astonishing run at Drury Lane, inso- 
much that the receipts of the House when this actress 
performed greatly exceeded the attractions of the 
famous Melpomene." 

As for Mrs. Siddons there was a grain of truth about 
her being beaten out of the field, though she by no 
means ceased to play. She had her brother being 
manager relinquished her contract to act at least 
three times a week for 30, for the more advantageous 
one of acting only when she chose on a payment of 
30 a night, which meant that she acted less and 
gained more. 

124 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

The feeling between Dorothy and the Kembles 
grew more bitter after this; Kemble's first year was, 
in fact, distinguished by quarrels with both actors and 
actresses, who resented his improvements and his high- 
handed methods of carrying them out ; comments upon 
all of which the papers joyfully published. With 
Dorothy matters came to a crisis early in January 1789, 
and on the loth she was not at the theatre, a Mrs. 
Foster taking her part. It may have been illness, or 
it may have been a quarrel which kept her away, for 
she was angry about her brother, as Kemble not only 
refused to take him, but had even endeavoured to 
prevent his presence in the stage part of the theatre 
at all, The Morning Post reporting that the door- 
keeper was fined five shillings for allowing him 
entrance. This was a small penalty for a small thing, 
for Kemble fined Mrs. Crouch five guineas for refus- 
ing to appear when he and she had had a desperate 
quarrel concerning her clothes. 

If Dorothy was in a general state of irritation about 
George, she was also brooding over the fact that she 
who drew the largest audiences to the theatre was 
securing only twelve guineas a week, while Mrs. 
Siddons had thirty. However, she soon recovered, for 
her absence only lasted eleven days, but the strain 
between Thalia and Melpomene grew keener, and a 
long letter appeared one day in March in The Morn- 
ing Post commenting on a saying by Dorothy's friends 
that she ought not to act on the same night as Mrs. 
Siddons, it being alleged that by so doing she filled 
the house for her rival and was thus forced to hold 
up the train of the tragedy queen. 

Then Harris, the manager of Covent Garden, took 

Success and Failure 125 

advantage of these rumours to offer her a position in 
his theatre at any salary she liked to name. Upon this 
Dorothy wrote to Sheridan, detailing the points of her 
complaints concerning the Kembles, telling him of 
the Harris offer, and saying that it was not to her 
interest to continue to play at Drury Lane. Sheridan 
was at this time deep in the arraignment of Warren 
Hastings, but this was too important a matter to be 
put aside, and he went to see Dorothy, promised to do 
away with all her grievances, and suggested 30 a 
week as a salary. 

She had no real desire to change her theatre, and 
at once agreed to his terms, so for the rest of the 
spring she was constantly acting. 

The London season of 1789 over, Dorothy took a 
week's engagement at Richmond, starting on June 29, 
in The Constant Couple, and following it with The 
Romp, the manager Edwin on opening the theatre 
announcing her advent in a prologue of which two 
lines ran 

" My next vast merit, I must have a word on ! 
Ecod ! d'ye know, I've got you Mistress Jordan!" 

and the succeeding lines made mention of her leg, her 
ankle, her foot, and promised the girls a kiss from 
Harry Wildair. 

At the end of the week she did one of her impul- 
sively generous deeds. She had heard that Tate 
Wilkinson had been crippled by an accident, so 
offered to act Sir Harry Wildair and Nell for him 
for nothing at his benefit on Monday, the ;th of July. 
This if her Richmond engagement finished on the 
5th left her little time to get to Leeds. It is needless 
to say that Wilkinson accepted her offer with alacrity, 

126 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

and thought himself very fortunate ; but he estimated 
a little too nicely what he thought Mrs. Jordan was 
likely to do. Thus, fearing that she could not get to 
him in time, he altered the day from Monday to Wed- 
nesday the Qth, and then watched with some misgiving 
for the arrival of the actress. Sunday, Monday morn- 
ing and she did not come ; his spirits rose, he began to 
pat himself for his acumen; two o'clock on Monday 
and she had not arrived; then he was quite sure that 
he had done the wise thing, for he persuaded himself 
that she would not think of playing without a previous 

The Fords to give them the name Dorothy wished 
and under which she was billed at Leeds had, how- 
ever, travelled by post from Richmond, and arrived in 
the town on the Monday afternoon; and as they 
entered it the first thing Dorothy looked for was a 
theatre bill. On seeing one her warm feelings received 
a shock, for her name was not upon it, and she 
naturally thought that Wilkinson had simply put her 
aside, and was angry that she should have taken so 
much trouble for nothing. At half-past four the 
gentleman received a note from her, saying that she 
was in the town and was surprised not to see her name 
announced for that night; so he went with trepidation, 
we may believe to her hotel, grumbling to himself 
that any one in their senses would think it too great 
a hardship to undergo two exhausting performances 
just after finishing such a journey. He must have felt 
uneasy about the interview, for he had had some 
experience of Dorothy indignant; and truly it was 
scarcely pleasant. To all his excuses the actress 
replied that she would act that night or not at all; 

Success and Failure 127 

that she could not stay beyond the next day, as her 
engagement with Mr. Jackson of Edinburgh involved 
a fine of 500 if she were not there at the time fixed. 
Wilkinson tried persuasion and cajolery, pointing out 
how terribly the town would be offended if she did 
not perform at his benefit, and that every one was 
speaking in praise of her generosity in acting for 

" Nothing ! " said the irritated lady, " nothing ! No, 
I cannot stay here three days, risk my fine at Edin- 
burgh and all for nothing; I shall want thirty guineas 
if I stay." 

Poor Wilkinson felt that the glory of his benefit 
had departed, and he debated with himself whether, 
after all, he would not gain as much without her as 
with her on such terms; then Dorothy relented, and 
said she would stay and act for twenty guineas. And 
so the matter was fixed. 

Mrs. Jordan was expecting the birth of another babe 
in the winter, and Wilkinson suggests that the ladies 
at Leeds considered her representation of Sir Harry 
Wildair indelicate under such conditions; but it may 
be, on the other hand, that the whole affair had 
destroyed that happy balance of mind which could 
ensure success; yet, to put the third possibility, the 
good Tate may have been deaf to the applause as he 
had lost twenty guineas; for he says there was no 
great applause shown such as she was accustomed to, 
for though ladies in London would laugh at Farquhar 
and Congreve, those in the country judged Sir Harry 
at best as a loose companion, his chastity being any- 
thing but strengthened when acted by a woman. So 
he concludes that Dorothy, being unappreciated, was 

128 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

angry with her reception ; yet " they parted excellent 
good friends." 

But it is a question whether Mrs. Jordan was treated 
by the Yorkshire audience with any particular 
disdain. It seemed to be generally acknowledged 
that they, in common with other country audiences, 
were slow to applaud, so much so that even their idol 
the Queen of Tragedy that very summer of 1789 felt 
depressed by their attitude when she played Mary 
Queen of Scots to them, saying that it took double the 
strength and force of will to act in the provinces that 
it took on the London boards. 

On the way to Leeds Dorothy was to play at 
Harrogate for several nights, which was probably a 
further reason for her annoyance with Wilkinson's 
change of dates. While playing there a young, dark- 
eyed girl sat in the gallery watching this noted " star," 
one who later was known as Harriot Mellon, and who 
married Coutts, the banker, becoming eventually 
Duchess of St. Albans. 

Dorothy's mother was at that time in bad health, 
and it may be that she left her in that resort for 
invalids, while she went on to the Scotch capital, 
where of necessity she was late in arriving, Jackson, 
the manager, being in an irate frame of mind, and 
seriously contemplating a demand for the 500. It 
was certainly a great temptation to him as his affairs 
were in a particularly bad state, and such a sum of 
money would have been a godsend. However, the 
demand would also have meant the loss of Mrs. 
Jordan's presence on his boards, and probably such a 
retaliation from the public as would have precipitated 
his total failure. 

Success and Failure 129 

So he bad-temperedly waived his legal right, and 
Mrs. Jordan proceeded to charm the people of the 
North into gaiety, also to renew her friendship 
with her uncle John Bland and his family, with all of 
whom she again acted. 

Before her engagement was completed she had news 
that her mother was likely to die, and as she had 
of all the children been the only one to help or 
do anything for that mother, it was scarcely likely 
that she would let business cause her to desert her 
at the last. Thus the plays had to proceed without 
Dorothy, and poor Grace Philipps, who had made 
one great mistake, who had had about fifteen years of 
presumably happy married life with a man who, 
tempted beyond his strength, left her; who had 
struggled hard for her children until one of them 
gladly took up the burden and worked for her Grace 
Philipps died, an inconsiderable person, who must 
have left the world little poorer for her loss, though 
her daughter's grief was great. In the Edinburgh 
Herald some time later appeared the following lines, 
written by Dorothy * 


" Be ready, reader, if thou hast a tear, 
Nor blush if sympathy bestows it here ! 
For a lost mother, hear a daughter's moan, 
Catch the sad sounds, and learn like her to groan. 
Yet, all those groans, sad echoes all to mine, 
Must prove faint offerings at so dear a shrine. 
If feeble these, how feebler far must be 
The tribute to be paid by Poesy ! 
The bleeding heart, that's whelm'd with real woe, 
Affects no flowers near Helicon that grow ; 
Sobs and swoln sighs ill suit smooth-numbered lay, 
The tear that waters cypress, drowns the bay. 

1 They were also published in The Gentleman 's Magazine^ Dec. 1811, 
when her name was most prominently before the public. 

130 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Hard, then, must be the task, in mournful verse, 

The praise of a lost parent to rehearse. 

Mild suffering saint exemplary through life, 

A tender mother, and a patient wife ; 

Whose firm fidelity no wrongs could shake, 

While curb'd resentment was forbid to speak. 

Thus, silent anguish mark'd her for his own, 

And comfort, coming late, was barely known ; 

It, like a shadow, smiled and slipped away, 

For churlish Death refused to let it stay ; 

A two-fold dart he levelFd, to destroy, 

At once, both mother's life and daughter's joy. 

Better a double summons had been given, 

To wipe out sorrow's score, and make all even, 

By kindly calling both at once to Heaven I " 

They are not particularly good, but they give some 
hints as to the mother's character 

"Whose firm fidelity no wrongs could shake, 
While curb'd resentment was forbid to speak." 

We here find the same quality which animated 
Dorothy ; loyalty under loss and ill-treatment, a loyalty 
which refused to divulge the truth about Francis Bland 
or to give rumour the chance of blaming him. 

Jackson had no idea of letting Dorothy off scot free, 
he was in such difficulties that he probably eagerly 
hailed any method of evading his payments, so she 
could get no money from him, and had to borrow to 
pay her expenses in Edinburgh. The company of 
which she was for a time a member went on to Glas- 
gow, and then, before leaving, the Fords wrung from 
Jackson a bill for 100 to be paid in London. He 
avenged himself by publishing various statements 
against Dorothy, among them that her presence had 
not brought him any advantage, and comparing the 
receipts from her acting with the sums that Mrs. 
Siddons had drawn from the public earlier. 

From Edinburgh the Fords went on to Chester, and 
there Jackson's bill was returned to them dishonoured, 

Success and Failure 131 

and they heard of his doings in Glasgow, which drew 
a public letter from Dorothy, explaining the straits 
to which she had been put, and ending with 

"I have now entirely done with the subject, and, 
thank God, with Mr. Jackson, who, I hope, by his 
punctuality to pay his present -protested note, will not 
compel me to resume any acquaintance with him by 
the methods the law points out. 

" P.S. As to Mr. Jackson's comparative statement 
of the receipts, I am no judge, I can only say that the 
houses were apparently very good when I performed ; 
perhaps it would not have been amiss, but rather 
fairer, if he had said that in the year 1785, from whence 
he drew Mrs. Siddons's account, that lady performed 
at the advanced London prices/' 



"Apologies for plays, experience shows, 
Are things almost as useless as the beaux. 
Whate'er we say (like them) we neither move 
Your friendship, pity, anger, nor your love. 
'Tis interest turns the globe : let us but find, 
The way to please you, and you'll soon be kind : 
But to expect, you'd for our sakes approve, 
Is just as though you for their sakes should love." 

VANBRUGH, The Relapse. 

IN the summer of 1789, George Bland was acting 
at Liverpool, independently of his sister, and there he 
did what the impecunious young man so often does, he 
married. Not that he made an unworldly choice, but it 
was too quick a one to be the result of anything but 
sudden attraction. The lady, I can scarcely call her 
fair, was Maria Romanzini, whom Daly had attempted 
to win in 1781, and who had been acting with Dorothy 
at Drury Lane. Her child-life had been one of hard- 
ship, for her mother like Topsy, she seems to have 
had no father was a poor Jewess, who was glad 
enough when Cady, the hairdresser at the Royal 
Circus, suggested that the little one had sufficient voice 
even then to be valuable as a performer. Through his 
influence the child was articled to the Circus, doing 
little recitations at a very small salary. As she 
possessed arch humour and a pretty way of singing, 
she soon became a favourite, and when the Patent 
Theatre made an attack on the Circus, because of the 
child plays acted there, she was one of the company 
who had a narrow escape from imprisonment. 

In appearance, she was very small and dark, and 


A Relapse 133 

though graceful as a girl, she grew too broad with 
advancing years. Her deep voice was effective in 
operas, and in plays that needed much singing. Leigh 
Hunt said of her when writing on The Old Actors, 
" Mrs. Bland, the favourite little singer, with a voice 
like her name, and a short, thick person, and dark 
face to match, whom her sweet ballads made ever 

The urgent need to live seems to have divested both 
her and her mother of any steady principle, and 
various stories are told of the way they used to conform 
to any demand which the mischievous public made 
upon them. The Secret History of the Green Room 
asserts that, when in Liverpool in 1789, Miss Roman- 
zini knew that there were a great number of Roman 
Catholics in the town, and that they liberally 
patronized those of their own persuasion, so she 
regularly displayed her devotion at their chapels. But 
a wicked wag, by circulating the report of her being 
a Jewess, obliged her to sit sewing at her window every 
Saturday afternoon, to show that she broke the 
Sabbath; and the better to contradict the assertion, 
she made her mother buy a live pig in the evening, and 
go to every person with whom she could pretend 
business, " and pulling the young Sir Joseph Maubrey 
by the tail, tell that it was for the dinner of her and her 
daughter next day." 

Romanzini was due at Drury Lane in the autumn 
of 1789, but, encouraged by Dorothy's increase of 
salary, she refused to return unless her own was in- 
creased. This the management would not agree to, so, 
after a few weeks, she and her bridegroom appeared in 
London, and the bride took up her work at the old 

134 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

That two favourite actresses now had an interest in 
George Bland must have somewhat embarrassed 
Kemble, and he at last succumbed to the pressure put 
upon him, for early in February 1790, George acted 
Sebastian to Dorothy's Viola. How this was brought 
about is left to conjecture, also why Dorothy did not 
act at all in the autumn of 1789. Was it true that her 
increase of salary was not being paid, as it was 
rumoured in the summer ? or was it that she was using 
her absence to force Kemble to include her brother in 
the company? Or was it solely because a third 
daughter was born to her this winter, and she was 
probably unable to work in the preceding months ? 

From February 1790, however, she was acting 
incessantly, sometimes as much as five nights a week, 
taking several new plays through the season, by which 
she added the parts of Polly Honeycomb, Laetitia 
Hardy in The Belle's Stratagem, and of Lydia 
Languish to her list. She also created for her benefit, 
in March, Little Pickle, in The Spoiled Child, a play 
supposed to have been written by Richard Ford, but 
the papers of the day asserted that Dorothy herself 
was the author. Boaden suggests that it was an 
anonymous production by Bickerstaff, which is quite 
likely, Dorothy altering it to suit her ideas, for years 
later she had a play acted of which she was part 

There is in the British Museum, a little slip of paper, 
relating to this benefit night, which runs : 

"Received, 27 March, 1790, of Mr. Westley, Thirty-nine 
pounds 17/7 in full for my benefit balance this season. 

39 -i 7- 7." 

A Relapse 135 

As Mrs. Siddons did not act at all at Drury Lane 
this season, it is probable that Dorothy was more 
contented, especially as her brother seemed, at last, 
to have won a position of independence. George 
Bland was given by Kemble the really good salary 
for a beginner in London of 5 a week, an arrange- 
ment which lasted some time. In October 1791 he 
and his wife went with the Drury Lane Company to 
the Haymarket; The Bon Ton Magazine comment- 
ing in its usual frank fashion : " Those who heard her 
masculine pipe and the effeminate voice of her 
husband, wonder much at the circumstance of a 
bouncing boy." 

History places three children to the credit of the 
Elands; this bouncing boy of 1791, and twin boys in 
1792, but there may have been more. About the twins 
The Secret History of the Green Room tells a story 
apropos of Bland : " The character that has given him 
most reputation is Arionelli, in The Son-in-law, which 
he performed at the Haymarket, with a degree of 
applause that might have pleased a Siddons or a Dall. 1 
He assumed the Italian Catastro in a most happy 
manner, and in the songs displayed not only good 
taste, but a powerful voice. The plaudits he received 
were extraordinary, and the good humour of the 
audience was not a little increased when he said 
' Marriage ! Oh ! dat is quite out of my way.' 

"Wilson, as Cranby, retorted with an original 

" * Indeed ! Then how came you to have twins 
t'other day ? ' A retort which produced a universal 
burst of laughter." 

1 An actress then well known at Covent Garden. 

136 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

For several years Mr. and Mrs. Bland acted 
together, and then we find Maria frequently in 
London, while her husband's name appeared only on 
provincial bills. So George and his wife drifted apart, 
and then gossip asserted that when they were together 
she not only betrayed, but ill-treated him. Caulfield, 
the comedian, then shared her home, and she had many 
children, one of whom died tragically. She was one 
day, says Oxberry in his Memoirs, working some 
expensive lace into a dress, and being suddenly called 
from the room, she went back, after an interval, to find 
that one of the children had cut the lace to pieces. In 
a rage, Maria shook the poor little thing violently, and 
put it out of the door. At length, going out of the 
room, she found the child lying dead on the mat. This 
horrible event brought on a fit of insanity, from which, 
however, she recovered, and worked many years, 
though she was insane at the end of her life. 

Bland, alone, cast from his home, and unsuccessful 
" in what is called the walking gentleman he is more 
than useful, his person and deportment being very 
genteel," was a height of praise with which he could 
surely have cheerfully dispensed eventually went to 
America, that place of hope for English actors, and 
in the Gentleman's Magazine for November 1807, 
appeared the following paragraph 

"At Boston, in America, about four months since, 
in the utmost poverty and indigence, poor Bland, the 
brother of Mrs. Jordan, and husband of Mrs. Bland of 
the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane." 

Poor Bland ! It expressed the general feeling about 
a man who was not clever, but who won general affec- 
tion. Dorothy Jordan seemed to bear Maria Teresa no 

A Relapse 137 

malice, however, and towards the end of her life spoke 
well of her professional qualities, thus there may have 
been more in the separation than is revealed. 

It would probably have been no satisfaction to 
Bland to know that his successor, Caulfield, shared his 
own fate, of dying alone in America, though it was not 
until 1815, when he fell down in a fit, and expired on 
a Kentucky stage. 

As for Mrs. Bland, it was not until January 1838 
that a morning paper announcement ran : " Mrs. Bland 
died this day, aged 75 ; she married the brother of Mrs. 
Jordan, but the chances are that those who never aided 
her living are not likely to mourn for her dead ! ' O 
world, thy slippery turns ' what a ballad singer ! 
in appearance like a fillet of veal on castors it was 
vox, et praeterea nihil but what a vox ! " 

During the summer and second half of the year 
1790, also in the first half of 1791, there is little 
reported about Dorothy's movements, though she 
seems to have been as busy as before; and it was at 
this time that a certain scandal began to be whispered, 
which, however, will be detailed in the next chapter. 

She had, again this winter, several new characters to 
support, which always pleased her, among them being 
The Greek Slave, altered from an old play; Better 
Late Than Never, which was a failure, though her 
acting in it was warmly praised, and The Intriguing 
Chambermaid. During the spring and summer of 1791 
she was anything but well, and began to spit blood, 
which probably frightened her and upset her usual 
happy serenity. The doctor ordered her a thorough 
change of air, so after a week or so at Richmond, she 
went up north with Richard Ford, who was at this 

138 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

period very particular in accompanying her every- 
where. She had made quite good business terms with 
Wilkinson, that she should act on shares and have a 
clear benefit on the Saturday in Assize week, and in the 
following week she was to act conditionally on one 
night, which was to be arranged when they met. 

Wilkinson advertised her to play on the first night 
The Country Girl and The Devil to Pay. As Miss 
Peggy in the first was an exhausting part, involving 
singing, and generally an encore, Dorothy said that she 
could not do both on one evening; The Devil to Pay 
must wait. So she followed Peggy with a play entitled 
The Mock Doctor. 

The only account of the trouble in Yorkshire this 
summer is given by Tate Wilkinson, a somewhat 
partial witness, and certainly some discount should 
be made from this record of Dorothy's ill-doings. 
Though The Country Girl, as first given by Mrs. 
Brown, was warmly received in York, Tate says that 
the Yorkshire ladies were now too delicately minded to 
enjoy it, and the audience was not enthusiastic ; he adds 
that Dorothy was in a devil of a humour, and that she 
grumbled to him that had the Yorkshire people pos- 
sessed either life or soul she would have sung to them. 

" Sing ! " he besought her, and indicated a song 
written by Miss Ryder, a daughter of the Ryder to 
whom she had owed the first step in her profession. 
She could not refuse that, and Wilkinson says, " She 
'did sing it, and the whole theatre was one voice, one 
soul, one mind, to burst into loud encores, and to do her 
great merit justice." But the reaction came, and the 
evening did not close so well as it might have done. 

On Tuesday things went more successfully with 

A Relapse 139 

The Devil to Pay and The Trip to Scarborough, and 
with hilarity and good humour the Fords supped with 
Wilkinson. But with each night matters dragged 
more slowly, the audiences were lukewarm, and 
Dorothy's spirits were dashed ; then her natural devilry 
helped to spoil matters. She uttered scathing com- 
ments on the public who could not appreciate her, and 
these were carefully repeated through the town. Mrs. 
Esten had acted Rosalind to them, and they had fallen 
in love with her languorous speech and movements, 
which they preferred to the more roguish acting of 
Dorothy, so, according to Wilkinson, she began, " first 
to pin, then to sew, and by degrees to bolt and bar up 
all her acting," and seemed more ready to offend than 
conciliate, declaring that she had a double weight to 
carry, a stupid audience and a stupid company. On 
Friday there was only 25 in the house, and her benefit 
the next night was poor. After the second act she 
told the manager she would not play in York again, 
but he, thinking this only a fit of temper, announced 
her for Monday; which was curious, seeing that he had 
been grumbling about the bad receipts. 

At the end of the evening the actress and the 
manager had a row, she " almost swearing that she 
would not act again, and speaking disrespectfully of 
the beggarly engagement she had entered into." This 
touched Wilkinson who prided himself on his 
liberality and justice in a tender spot, and he read 
her a lecture, adding for his reader's information 

" Surely I had a right to speak when so wronged : 
for if she was a theatrical duchess, why I was a 
theatrical monarch Who's afraid ! " 

Dorothy reddened and looked angry at the lecture, 

140 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

and though Wilkinson hoped she would relent and 
become good-humoured, "her mind settled quite 
gloomy," and he says she never forgave him his 

The Fords were to have dined with the Wilkinsons 
on the Sunday, and about midnight on Saturday the 
following letter was delivered at the house of the 

" I have mentioned to Mrs. Ford the substance of 
the conversation you favoured me with this evening, 
and stated to her how anxious you were that she should 
enlarge her engagement ; she appears, however, to be so 
very averse to it that I must desist from further press- 
ing her. The night due to you she is ready to perform 
on next Wednesday, 1 or any earlier time you may please 
to appoint. She desires me to add, that as she feels 
herself very unwell and much fatigued, she is desirous 
of passing a day or two in the country, and therefore 
hopes that you will excuse her from doing herself the 
pleasure of waiting upon you and Mrs. Wilkinson 

" I am, dear sir, 

'Your very obedient, humble servant, 

That there was something more than Wilkinson 
described to make Dorothy dissatisfied with her en- 
gagement was very possible, for the writer of The 
Great Illegitimates declares that she was subject to 
gross insult while on the stage from the interference 
of some rigid moralists, in consequence of her living 

1 She was to perform that night without payment. 

A Relapse 141 

with Ford. Wilkinson was probably too angry to 
betray this, for he was, where his feelings were 
concerned, quite untrustworthy. 

Thus, when praising a new young actress in "the 
Jordan line," he said that Dorothy must be a dupe to 
her own art, if she supposed that a girl of eighteen 
would not please better than an old married one of 
forty-four" Yet when the book in which this was 
written came out, Dorothy was only then thirty-four ! 

Kemble was in York en route to Newcastle, and 
staying with the Mayor, who was a personal friend, 
and this probably added bitterness to Dorothy's anger, 
for the Kemble-Jordan feud never really died out. 
Much has been said about the greed of Kemble and 
his sister, Mrs. Siddons, and much has been said to 
prove that they were generous, yet the ways of John 
Kemble with Tate Wilkinson were scarcely those of a 
generous heart. 

In his embarrassment, Wilkinson went to Kemble, 
who saw Dorothy Jordan, and arranged that she should 
take a week at Newcastle with his brother Stephen in 
his stead, while he acted in York. To Tate Wilkinson 
he dictated terms. 

" Mrs. Jordan shall not play on the Wednesday, as 
that is the most fashionable night, but I will play, 
and, as I act for fame, not for money, I will take .only 
thirty guineas in payment." 

The horrified Wilkinson ejaculated " Pounds ! " 

"Then that's the end of the matter," equably 
returned Kemble. 

" Then guineas let it be," murmured the manager, 
who was, to use his own words, " jammed in a corner." 

However, Wilkinson was no fool, so he went home 

142 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

and wrote to Dorothy, giving her the alternative of 
paying him thirty pounds or being advertised as per- 
forming on the Tuesday. To which she replied 

" SIR, 

" I agree with pleasure to your proposal of 
giving you thirty pounds rather than ever perform in 
York again. I shall return to-morrow and settle the 
balance of the account. 

" I am, dear sir, 

* Your obliged, humble servant, 
" D. FORD." 

The theatre had to be closed on the Monday, and 
Tate Wilkinson issued the following notice 

"Theatre Royal, York, 

"Monday, August 15, 1791. 

" Mr. Wilkinson is under the disagreeable necessity 
of closing the theatre this evening, as Mrs. Jordan has 
positively declined any future performance on this 
stage : Mr. Wilkinson is extremely sorry for the dis- 
appointment, but has the unexpected satisfaction of 
informing the public that 


Manager of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane 

(whose abilities are universally known and established), 
perceiving Mr. Wilkinson's embarrassed situation, 
has kindly offered his assistance during this Festival 
Week, and will appear to-morrow, in the character, 



A Relapse 143 

However, the clever Tate crowed a little too soon, 
for he was not yet out of his difficulty. 

Dorothy returned to York on the Monday, and paid 
him the 30, saying that she had done rightly, and 
that she would be ruined as an actress if she were 
to play to such a milk-and-water audience. But the 
Kembles dined with him that Monday, and, at the 
table, Kemble calmly announced that, after all, he 
would not play for thirty guineas on Wednesday, that 
it was not worth his trouble or attention, and that it 
would be to slight his reputation if he did not clear 
160 for the five nights; therefore he would share 
the house that night. He had probably heard that 
that was the arrangement with Mrs. Jordan during 
that uncomfortable week, and would not condescend 
to play for less. 

The thunderstruck manager refused peremptorily, 
and they separated. When the Tuesday rehearsal time 
came, Kemble was in bed, having given orders that he 
was not to be disturbed; which put his friend, the 
Mayor, into a panic for his own reputation with the 
townspeople. However, Kemble stolidly refused to 
appear unless "the mistake about Wednesday were 
put right," and at one o'clock, Wilkinson again ex- 
plained affairs to the public and announced The Battle 
of Hexham without Kemble. The actor was probably 
just trying to screw as much as he could get out of 
the manager, for when the agitated Mayor suggested 
a compromise, the terms of which, however, Wilkinson 
'did not reveal, both parties accepted it. So the busi- 
ness-like tragedian played, and netted nearly 150 
for the rest of the week. 

Mrs. Jordan set out for Newcastle, but Kemble 

144 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

seems to have played her as false as he did Wilkinson, 
for he had not troubled properly to instruct his brother 
Stephen as to what was arranged, nor even to have 
learned whether this change of plan was such as 
Stephen Kemble's company could fall into. That 
actor's people were prepared for Kemble, they knew 
nothing of Mrs. Jordan's farces, and could not get 
them up in the few days given them, so they did not 
even leave Lancaster; and though Newcastle was 
billed with The Country Girl, Mrs. Jordan was the 
only actor present in the town. 

It was probably the most mortifying summer 
Dorothy had known, and she talked of bringing an 
action against the Kembles, but the matter died down, 
though it is scarcely likely that the anger raised was 
easily allayed. 

Wilkinson was a good bargainer, and never could 
reconcile himself to the fact that one of his own poorly 
paid actresses should have risen to such a height as to 
be able to dictate terms to him, thus in his books he 
indulged in little hits at Dorothy, such as the 

" But now, dear Mrs. Jordan, you do like the cash, 
and I believe and hope you take care of it; that you 
love to receive it I know, and so does every other 
manager; you have made us all feel that. You will 
excuse me being jocular." 

And again 

" Mrs. Jordan is certainly the lucky child o' fortune, 
billed, caressed, and nursed in the lap o j Nature ; she 
is undoubtedly the reigning Thalia of the age 1791, 
and deservedly so; and to her comic talent, archness, 
whim, and fancy, I submissively bow, and also acknow- 

A Relapse 145 

ledge her humanity and goodness to her late parent. 
But am compelled, as Mr. Manager, to declare, like 
Mr. Foote in his Devil upon Two Sticks, that Mrs. 
Jordan, at making a bargain, is too many for the 
cunningest devil of us all." 

When Kemble forced the poor man to pay him 
thirty guineas for an evening which Dorothy was 
giving free of charge, he was certainly out-doing Mrs. 
Jordan, and when Wilkinson, in his turn, forced 
Dorothy to pay that thirty guineas, really the evidence 
of being " the cunningest devil at making a bargain " 
seems to rest with Tate Wilkinson. 



" Behold sportive Jordan, that favourite fair, 
Who was sent by mankind to avert your despair ; 
With her you've successfully baited your trap, 
She's in truth the best feather you have in your cap. 
How you got her, to me, I must own, is a wonder, 
When I think of your natural aptness to blunder." 


ACTORS have always desired the favour of princes, 
for it affects their social status and heightens their 
commercial value. Thus Dorothy was fortunate in 
that she had not been in London a month before the 
Prince of Wales went to see her in The Country Girl, 
was present when she played Viola on November 16, 
1785, and often saw her act later. 

On January 18, 1786, "their Majesties seemed 
highly entertained with the pert humour of Mrs. Jordan 
in The Country Girl and The Romp." That autumn 
they saw her in Richard Cceur de Lion, and they were 
present with the Princesses when she played in Love 
for Love the following year. They may also have 
gone on other occasions, as the above are but chance 

Prince William Henry also must have seen her in 
the first autumn of her London career, as he was in 
London at the end of September and part of October, 
and from time to time he had many opportunities of 
studying the vivacious young actress. But it was not 
until Dorothy captured his heart by the beauty of her 


The Prince and Mr. Ford 147 

form and the witchery of her high spirits in the spring 
of 1790, when she played Little Pickle in The Spoilt 
Child, that he could have thought seriously of her. 
However, as he was appointed to command the Valiant 
in May of that year, he had little chance of allowing 
his admiration any outlet, and it was perhaps not until 
the end of November, when his ship was paid off and 
he was withdrawn from the sea with the title of Rear- 
Admiral, that he saw Little Pickle again. His ship 
was sailing in home waters, however, during October 
and November 1790, and he may have occasionally 
been in London then. 

The Duke a title recently conferred upon him 
was the product of his family and his time ; brutalized 
by the educational lash in his boyhood, his emotions 
stunted by lack of parental affection, treated with such 
parsimony by his father that debt became an inevitable 
condition, inducted into licentiousness by his licentious 
elder brother, he had the vices of the Carolian Court 
without any of its picturesqueness. Differently trained 
and circumstanced, he would probably have been quite 
an amiable and respectable man; but the children of 
George III, boys and girls alike, had little chance of 
attaining either real happiness or virtue. 

Between the ages of fourteen and fifty-four Prince 
William made several attempts to evade the family 
Marriage Act, which decreed that no prince or princess 
should marry any one who was not royal, and all these 
attempts being frustrated, he did quite conveniently 
without marriage. Like the jolly tar in the song, he 
was credited with a wife or two in every port, and 
his erotic doings were for long the subject of waggish 

148 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

At fourteen he was taken to the watch-house for 
brawling at Vauxhall. He had gone to a masquerade 
there as a young sailor, and was flirting with a nun, 
when a Spanish Grandee began to pester the latter. 
High words ended in a general row, and all the party 
were marched off by the watchmen. When the young 
men unmasked before their captors the latter heard 

"Eh, George, is that you?" from the sailor to the 
Spanish Grandee ; and " Eh, William, is that you ? " 
from the Spanish Grandee to the sailor. This episode 
earned the boy William banishment on the Channel 
Fleet. His next vagary was more sentimental, and 
intended to be strictly honourable. For at sixteen 
he fell in love with the Hon. Julia Fortescue, a girl 
of his own age, and one of the rising beauties of the 
Court. As the Fortescues' house fronted on the Green 
Park, these children had plenty of opportunities to 
meet and discuss their approaching marriage, a cere- 
mony only prevented "by the iniquitous Marriage 
Act." Then the affair being discovered, the little 
Julia was sent in disgrace to Scotland where she 
married later by her royally disgraced parents. The 
boy prince was shipped off again to Gibraltar, and then 
to America and Jamaica; at which last place the story 
went that he secured the convenient absence of a tire- 
some husband while he consoled the fascinating wife. 

Early in William's reign the first part of a book was 
published and dedicated to the British nation, bearing 
the title, "Memoirs and Amorous Adventures by Sea 
and Land of King William IV. Interspersed with One 

Hundred Curious Anecdotes. By Captain M , 

R.N., who has the honour of being a shipmate of his 
Majesty's." Only this first part was published, and 

The Prince and Mr. Ford 149 

thus not many of the hundred curious anecdotes 
reached public knowledge, otherwise many more love 
adventures would have furnished cause for merriment 
among the subjects of William IV. 

During the two years William spent on the Con- 
tinent visiting Hanover, Brunswick and Osnaburg, he 
got into innumerable scrapes both over cards and 
women, though, or perhaps because, his pocket-money 
allowance was said to be only 100 a year. 

This visit caused a great scandal a few years later, 
for when his brother, Prince Edward, went to Hanover 
he was attacked by the civil authorities of that 
country, who demanded that Prince William should 
conform to their laws and provide for the child of a 
lady whom he had ruined. Edward wrote to William 
about this, who told him to disown the whole affair. 
But Hanover was not to be treated so cavalierly. 
Mother and child were sent to England to make the 
demand publicly, and a paragraph appeared in The 
Times detailing the whole affair, but not telling exactly 
which royal Duke was the culprit. A copy was sent 
to William, and he at once opened negotiations through 
his lawyer, Barton, with the lady, and it was finally 
agreed that the annual sum of 100 should be paid 
until the child was of age, the Duke defraying all the 
expenses of their return to Hanover. 

Many of the writers concerning royalty at the end 
of the eighteenth century spoke bitterly of the Royal 
Marriage Act, as though the sins of the princes arose 
from the fact that they could not marry any one they 
chose and when they chose. It is, however, quite 
certain that some of the brothers, if left in perfect free- 
dom, would not have been content to marry only once, 

150 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

and some Prince William, for example would have 
had many wives. It is more or less proved that the 
Prince of Wales married Mrs. Fitzherbert, and there 
is a story that William married at least once in his 
youth and left his wife to languish. This story was 
published in the form of letters by a well-known 
Leipzig firm in 1880, and the translation of the volume 
appeared in England through the agency of Messrs 
Sonnenschein& Allen, entitled Caroline von Linsingen 
and William IV . 

There is something very curious about this story, for 
the names of Caroline's people were truly given, and 
their home at Luneberg is truly described. Lieutenant- 
General Wilhelm von Linsingen, the father, was 
entrusted with the military tuition of Prince Ernest, 
the Duke of Cumberland, by George III, and 
Caroline's brother, Ernest von Linsingen, was often 
at the English Court. From time to time during 
thirty years the papers announced the meeting of the 
princes with the General or his son, as in 1812 it was 
reported that Clarence and the Prince Regent "went 
down to Ipswich and dined with Baron von Linsingen, 
who commands the cavalry of the German Legion. 5 ' 

The letters in this book only vaguely dated 
describe the love story, the clandestine marriage and 
its termination. The editor puts the dates between 
1790 and 1792 ; if he had stated them as being between 
1783 and 1785 there might have been some truth in the 
matter, as William was on the Continent then. But 
that which really seems to disprove the idea is that the 
Prince, primitive as he was, could not have written the 
letters ascribed to him here. And is it possible that 
the William we know could have been filled with so 
holy a love for the wife he had married that he would 

The Prince and Mr. Ford 151 

pass the only two hours he had in her company, in the 
middle of the night, kneeling arm in arm with her at 
the bedside, making vows of purity and honour ? 

Thus, beautifully and Germanically sentimental as 
is this story, it must be put aside as fiction, in spite of 
its realism in personages, for the Prince's mind and 
habits were totally different from those betrayed in the 
epistles supposed to have been written by him. As 
Grantley Berkeley says in his reminiscences 

" Oaths were employed in conversation by men of 
the highest rank even in the presence of ladies. The 
Prince of Wales and his brothers adopted it ! The 
Duke of Clarence not much more sparingly than the 
rest. An imprecation commonly began every sentence, 
the Lord's name was taken in vain, and the speaker's 
own soul sometimes consigned to perdition ;" a habit 
which certainly does not fit in with Caroline's descrip- 
tion of her royal husband. 

Prince William indulged in many other amorous 
affairs, notably one with a Portsmouth belle, while he 
was the talk of the town in 1788 because of a coloured 
girl he was said to have brought home with him on the 
Pegasus from the West Indies, and who rejoiced in 
the name of Wowski. Gossip and paragraphists said 
that she was left in Plymouth, generally on board ship, 
and The World announced on January 8, " The royal 
sailor is very observant of forms, and whenever any 
decent person appears Wowski is always kept in the 
background. On board ship he compares her to a 
mole who in sight of anybody goes under imme- 
diately." Other paragraphs asserted that she was 
playing with a Newfoundland dog when the Prince 
Regent went to see his brother ; that she was struggling 
with the alphabet and trying to crook a finger over a 

152 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

pen; and her presence at a drawing-room was satirically 

In 1789 William was created Earl of Minister and 
Duke of Clarence and St. Andrews, and with this he 
was given an allowance of 12,000 a year, a table and 
covers for his own use at St. James's Palace, the 
number of courses to be limited, and a house at Rich- 
mond, which was to be furnished and kept up for him. 
This latter, often spoken of as the Lodge at Richmond, 
was Clarence Lodge, in Kewfoot Lane (now called 
Clarence Street), " on the edge of the old Deer Park/ 5 
a small Georgian house on the boundary between Kew 
and Richmond, and quite close to the latter town. The 
house is still in existence; three or four steps lead up 
to the narrow door which, as Horace Walpole told the 
Duchess of Orrery, the Duke locked up himself every 
night that his servants should not stay out late. In the 
rooms where Clarence never drank at dinner "but a 
few glasses of wine " the poorest Richmond folk now 
herd in their tenement rooms, dirty children gaze from 
the two windows on either side of the door, and rags 
of blinds obscure the row of windows above; in its 
courtyard a tin chapel has found a lodgment, and its 
gardens are filled with slum cottages. But a century 
and a quarter ago it was surrounded with a green park, 
the silver Thames not far away, and the Richmond 
theatre quite close. 

The young Duke had not been long in this abode 
when, in spite of his careful supervision, it caught fire, 
and he found that he was responsible not only for 
restoring the house but replacing the furniture. 

Following upon this accident, he took Ivy House, 
on the river bank above the ferry at Richmond, 
opposite Cambridge House on the other bank; a pictur- 

The Prince and Mr. Ford 153 

esque building with two noble columns of ivy-covered 
bay windows. In this house it is asserted quite mis- 
takenly that Dorothy joined him, and the cause of the 
mistake is a letter of Horace Walpole's to Miss Berry, 
dated September 4, 1789, in which he says, "The 
Duke of Clarence has taken Mr. Henry Hobart's house 
point blank over against Mr. Cambridge's, which will 
make the good woman of the mansion cross herself 
piteously, and stretch the throat of the blatant beast 
at Sudbrook (Lady Greenwich), and of all the other 
pious matrons a la ronde; for H.R.H., to divert lone- 
liness, has brought with him , who, being still more 

averse to solitude, declares that any tempter would 
make even Paradise more agreeable than a constant 

The person who was taken there by him, and whose 
name was left out of the earlier printed editions of his 
letters, was a very different person, a girl named Polly 
Finch, " sprung from the Lord knows whom, and born 
the Lord knows where," whose qualifications were youth, 
vivacity and a tolerable share of good looks, with a 
weak and uncultivated mind. This affair ended in 
October when he departed again for the West Indies. 

In December 1790 the Duke was busy having his 
apartments in St. James's re-decorated, and The 
Gazetteer commented that he must have taken lessons 
from the Duke of Queensberry, for he had a door 
opened in the outer wall of the parlour under his bed- 
room, which was painted to have the resemblance of 
bricks, of which door William alone kept the key. 

Much has been said to prove that there was no con- 
nection between Dorothy and the Duke anterior to the 
autumn of 1791, and this was perhaps true, yet the 
Duke was so thoroughly attracted to her probably by 

154 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

that personation in the spring of 1 790 of Little Pickle 
much earlier than this, that it became a matter of 
public comment. 

As early as March 15, 1791, a vulgar caricature 
was published entitled, " The New Papa Disappointed; 
with Justice Shallow's attempt to charm the Brutes." 
This showed the front of Dorothy's house in Somerset 
Street, with a young man in black, wearing a star on his 
breast (Richard Ford), dancing, beating a tambourine 
and calling to an organ-grinder and trumpeter, repre- 
senting the British Public, to " Come along, my boys, 
that's your sort ; keep it up ! I won't commit you now, 
never fear; it's rare fun, ain't it? and all gratis." To 
this the organ-grinder replies aside, " Oh, the tremen- 
dous Justass Midas ! Oh, what a Solomon is Justass 
Midas ! " On the balcony of the house is a doctor, 
holding a dead baby, marked with a star on its breast, 

and shouting, " D your noise, Rascalls, you'll 

disturb Mrs. Pickle, who has just made a faux couch 
of a young sea-gull." 

The Duke of Clarence, in the garb of a buxom 
nurse, leans on the balcony rail, and from the doorway 
below an old woman looks up at them, murmuring 
" Bless the baby, how like its daddy ! what a pity it 
should be a slink ! 1 Aye, marry, and marked with a 

That this picture should have been published early 
in 1791 proves that scandal was then busy with 
Dorothy's name, probably quite unjustly; it also indi- 
cates that the fourth Ford child was still-born, an event 
which must have taken place in February, as Dorothy 
was acting on March the I7th, on the 25th, and through 

1 A term for a cast calf. 

The Prince and Mr. Ford 155 

There had been a curious incident on December 
22, 1790, when for her benefit Dorothy acted Celia, 
who was the mistress of the King's son in The Greek 
Slave, an incident which Boaden declares was but 
coincidence. For this play, adapted from Beaumont 
and Fletcher's The Humorous Lieutenant, Harry Bun- 
bury wrote an epilogue which Dorothy had to declaim, 
part of which ran as follows 

" How strange methinks I hear a critic say, 
What ! she the serious heroine of the play ! 
The manager his want of sense evinces, 
To pitch on hoydens for the love of princes, 
To trick out chambermaids in awkward pomp, 
Horrid ! to make a princess of a Romp. 
'Depend upon't,' replies indulgent John, 
'Some damn'd good-natured friend has set her on. 1 
1 Pugh ! ' says old Surly, * I shall not expect 
To see Jack Pudding treated with respect ; 
Cobblers in curricles alarm the Strand, 
Or my Lord Chancellor drive six-in-hand. 
But I've a precedent can quote the book 
Czar Peter made an empress of a cook.'" 

This epilogue was published in The Bon Ton 
Magazine the next month, but was not connected with 
the name of the Duke of Clarence, and it is almost a 
proof that there was nothing serious between the Duke 
and Dorothy then that that scandal-loving magazine 
did not begin to comment on this subject until August 
1791, when it announced, "The Duke of Clarence's 
penchant for a certain celebrated actress, notwithstand- 
ing what report says, has proved unsuccessful. The 
fact is, the Ford is too dangerous for him to cross the 

It is also a remarkable thing that the promoters of 
this paper should not have heard the whispers which 
prompted the publication on March 15 of the carica- 
ture described above. 

The Bon Ton Magazine declared of The Greek 

156 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Slave that the alterations of the play were made by 
Dorothy herself, " done with no uncommon felicity," 
and that so great was the enthusiasm on her benefit that 
nine crowded rows of the pit were laid in the boxes, 
and the house was overflowing in every part this 
though Mrs. Siddons had acted the night before, and 
there was an opera at the Hay market. 

Matters had, however, come to a sore point between 
Dorothy and Ford; she demanded with more insistence 
that he should give her a legal position, and Ford was 
torn two ways, his ambition dragged him the one and 
his love of ease and fatherly affection the other. The 
first would not allow him to do what Dorothy wished, 
the latter made him intensely jealous and determined 
to hold what he had got. During the spring he 
shadowed Dorothy wherever she went, saw her to the 
theatre, remained in the Green Room and saw her 
home. " Dick Ford, ever a dramatic amateur, has 
lately paid particular attention to the acting of Mrs. 
Jordan/' He ostentatiously handed her about at Rich- 
mond as Mrs. Ford, causing Horace Walpole to take 
the marriage seriously, writing in September : " Do you 
know that Mrs. Jordan is acknowledged to be Mrs. 
Ford ? " adding " but she does not quit the stage." 

Ford watched her through her engagement at Rich- 
mond, and went on that disastrous visit to Yorkshire 
with her, she being billed as Mrs. Ford, and there can 
be little doubt that the unevenness of her temper while 
there had some association with the trouble between 

That remark of Horace Walpole's must indicate the 
very last standpoint that Dorothy made before she 
cast the whole Ford incident away. She was not 
actuated by love for the Prince ; the one love of her life 

The Prince and Mr. Ford 157 

was given to her children, and she hungered also to 
give them a legitimate father. The shame of illegiti- 
macy had hung over her from her baby days : in her 
youth she had writhed under the scorn of her father's 
people, who could accept the erring man with open 
arms, but condemn the erring woman and the innocent 
children of both. In her youth, too, she had been 
forced by a scoundrel to bear an illegitimate child, and 
now again a weak and stubborn man was proving the 
falseness of his character and giving illegitimacy to 
her other children. She knew that if Richard Ford 
married there was no law to make him support his 
children by her; he could turn his back on them, 
leaving them to die of starvation and be no worse, 
except for the sentimental opinion of some foolish 
people brought into the world before their time. It 
was for the children that she fought, for them she 
begged that at last, after five years, he would redeem 
that solemn promise upon which he had won her. But 
in spite of his jealousy, in spite of his desire to keep 
his place in town and his place at Richmond, and to 
share the carriage supplied by Dorothy's money, in 
spite of all he would not marry ; the furthest he would 
go was to say to every one, " This is my wife ! " 

For Dorothy's purpose this was no good. Ford 
might swear through thick and thin that she was his, 
but without the legal ceremony he could leave her 
at any moment, feeling no moral responsibility for 
the children. 

She took counsel with her friends, among whom was 
Lady Francis Lumm, and probably her father's 
brother, the second Nathaniel Bland, then living in 
London. The author of The Great Illegitimates says 
that often at the house of Lady Lumm the conversa- 

158 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

tion would turn upon the wooing of the Duke of 
Clarence, and that these conversations would end with 
Lady Lumm's uniform observation, " I shall again this 
evening instil into her mind the absolute necessity of 
sticking to Mr. Ford, for I am well convinced that no 
good will accrue from the princely association." The 
author continues, " This advice her ladyship never 
failed to inculcate, making our actress take her seat 
by her at the card-table, when she would at intervals, 
in a half-whisper, repeat the counsel alluded to." 

B'ut Dorothy demanded an honourable return for 
her fidelity, and that Ford would not give. The 
Prince was ready to promise all he could indeed, all 
she asked, and to fix his promise upon parchment with 
the aid of lawyers. However long Dorothy looked at 
the situation she could but see that the Prince's offer 
was better than Ford's demand to take all and give 
nothing ; than his sullen assertion that things could go 
on as they were. She knew that they could not go on 
as they were, for the relations between them were 
terribly strained, and so at last, it is said, she gave her 
ultimatum. Within so many days Ford was to ratify 
his promise, or she would be at liberty to do as she 
thought fit. 

Ford followed his former tactics of letting things 
slide, and found that he had let them slide once too 
often. It is odd that, behaving as he did, he yet 
seemed to be angry and sore at Dorothy's desertion, 
and anxious to pose as an injured man. 

Horace Walpole followed his September letter with 
one dated October 16, 1791, saying that 

" Mrs. Jordan, whom Mr. Ford had declared his wife 
and presented as such to some ladies at Richmond, 
has resumed her former name, and is said to be much 

The Prince and Mr. Ford 159 

at a principal villa at Petersham, which I do not affirm 
far be it from me to vouch a quarter of what I hear." 

Clarence had, perhaps with some such arrangement 
in his mind, bought Petersham Lodge in 1790, giving 
, 1 2,000 for it, which, it was said, his father helped 
him to pay. It was on the edge of Richmond Park, 
about a mile beyond the town. 

The London theatrical season began in the middle 
of September, and The Bon Ton Magazine of October 
and many other papers abounded in paragraphs upon 
the association of the Duke and the actress, which 
showed that negotiations had been going on a con- 
siderable time. In November The Bon Ton gave a 
frontispiece of Clarence and Dorothy, he kneeling 
upon one knee, she sitting upon the other, her arm 
round his neck and his arm round her waist, he fanning 
her, she smiling at him. Little Pickle, the accompany- 
ing text declares, " studied no arts to attract the Prince, 
who only received her smiles and jokes in common 
with others. She was attached in friendship and 
affection to the father of her children, and was resolved 
to resist her royal suitor, but he opened his campaign 
with so much energy, and at the same time in a 
manner so gentle and noble, that she soon yielded to 
his arms and arguments; but such are the conditions 
of her submission that, should he at any time forget or 
break the bond of union, she would be in a much more 
formidable and independent state than ever." It 
further said that, as she gave no answer to several 
letters of love and generosity, the Prince determined 
upon a personal assault, and, by the aid of her servant, 
contrived one night after the play to obtain access to 
her apartments. 

How and when the affair was arranged, Richard 

160 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Ford made much trouble over it. He was a lawyer, 
and the knowledge of the letter of the law seems often 
to cripple the power of deciding simple questions of 
right or wrong. That Dorothy should attempt to 
bind him was unbearable, but it was also an infamous 
thing that she should consider herself free of bond to 
him. His friends and relatives took his part, and 
inspired spiteful paragraphs concerning Dorothy's 
deserted children, and her wantonness in preferring 
a royal lover to sweet, respectable but precarious 
domestic bliss. As Boaden remarks, these people 
knew nothing of Ford's privity to the advances made 
by the Duke : " They had never seen him at the wing 
of the theatre, and thrown their eyes up, as he must 
have done, to the private boxes." It is not unlikely 
that Ford had his price, for some time later he was in 
possession of Drury Lane shares, and, on the definite 
formation of the police magistracy in 1792, he was 
given the Court of Shadwell, and also became Under 
Secretary of State. 

It was not until the year 1800 that he was moved 
from Shadwell to Bow, which gave him priority over 
all the other police magistrates, and on the i6th of 
December, 1801, he was knighted. "Thus," says 
Watkins, author of the Life of William IV, " without 
any merit of his own, he obtained a fortune and a title." 
It is doubtful whether his later honours had anything 
to do with Dorothy or the Duke, for all the magistrates 
of that time, with the exception of two, were knighted. 

He certainly after the event got the credit of selling 
Dorothy, more, perhaps, because he and his friends 
became so clamorously angry than because there was 
proof of it. On the other hand, he and his friends 
were able to inspire many paragraphs against Mrs. 

The Prince and Mr. Ford 161 

Jordan, the general cry being that she was cruelly and 
unnaturally deserting her children for grandeur. 

Thus said The Bon Ton Magazine: " To be mis- 
tress of the King's son Little Pickle thinks respect- 
able, and so away go all tender ties to children. 
Ecod ! she says she will now be company for some of 
your royal Duchesses, as others in her royal line are ! " 

It was, however, known in the autumn of 1791 that 
the Duke had been paying his suit for months, that 
Ford had persistently refused to marry Dorothy, and 
that he knew all that was going on. So when, the 
matter being completed, a dead set was made against 
Dorothy by his friends in the theatre and out, the 
blame of it, after the first excitement, was ascribed to 

So great an impression was made by this onslaught 
on the part of Ford that even after his death one 
biographer, unaware that he was no longer living, 
accused him of engineering a furious attack upon 
Dorothy in 1809. 

She seems to have known her man and anticipated 
something of the sort, for she secured two exonerating 
notes from him when the agreement was made among 
the three of them, and, with the first rise of public 
blame, sent copies of these to the papers. 

MR. FORD'S letter to MRS. JORDAN : 

" Lest any insinuations be circulated to the prejudice 
of Mrs. Jordan in respect to her having behaved im- 
properly towards her children in regard to pecuniary 
matters, I hereby declare that her conduct in this 
particular has been as laudable, generous and as like 
a fond mother as in her present situation it was pos- 
sible to be. She has indeed given up for their use 

1 62 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

every sixpence she has been able to save from her 
theatrical profits, she has also engaged herself to allow 
them 550 per annum, and at the same time settled 
50 a year on her sister. It is but bare justice to her 
for me to assert this, as the father of those children. 

" Signed, 


" October 13, 1791." 


" In gratitude for the care Mrs. Jordan has ever 
bestowed on my children, it is my consent and wish 
that she, whenever she pleases, see and be with them, 
provided her visits are not attended by any circum- 
stances which may be improper to them or unpleasant 
to me. 


Ford did not deny that these letters were written 
by him, but he did make a protest in The Morning 
Post that they were published without his knowledge 
or consent. At first, perhaps, he intended to stick to 
his share of the bargain, for he decided to go on a 
visit to France, and crossed, curiously enough, with 
the writer of The Great Illegitimates then only a 
youth and his father, who says that Ford was in no 
amiable frame of mind, for those friends to whom he 
had introduced Dorothy as his wedded wife had been 
demanding explanations. 

Two or three years later Ford married a Miss Booth, 
an amateur artist of great ability, whose father was 
known as a connoisseur and collector of pictures. To 
them three children were born, the eldest being the 
Richard Ford who won fame as a writer upon Spain. 
To Sir Richard Ford is ascribed the introduction of 
mounted police in London. 



"As Jordan's high and mighty squire 

Her play-house profit deigns to skim, 
Some folks audaciously inquire 

If he keeps her or she keeps him." 


"Though always a mistress she has always acted up to the rigid 
principles and economy of a wife. She has never been lavish of her 
favours, but ever true and constant to the man she has lived with." 

AMONG those who now joined hands with Ford and 
became, therefore, his close friends, were some of those 
actresses who had been jealous of Dorothy's position, 
one, unnamed, being reported as particularly active. 
She was said to be more beautiful, but less successful 
than Dorothy, to be living in open adultery and to be 
jealous not only of her acting, but of her conquest of 
royalty, she having failed to bind one of the royal 
princes to herself. Further she had much influence 
with the press, and later historians accused her of the 
drink habit. This could only have been Mrs. Crouch, 
who separated from her husband because of her tran- 
sient connection with the Prince of Wales ; who lived 
with Kelly the actor; who, though better looking than 
Dorothy, was distinctly second to her in her art, yet 
always desirous of taking her place; who gave 
luxurious parties to which she invited all who might 
serve her, and who suffered severely from curious falls 
and accidents, which her friends deplored as misfor- 
tunes, but her enemies regarded as retribution for a 
bad habit. 


164 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

This actress inspired many of the ill-natured para- 
graphs which appeared, and did her best to pave the 
way for her own pre-eminence by playing upon the 
sentimentality of the British public. Taken as a 
whole this public loves to be flattered, to be told that 
it is honest, sincere and moral, and as such cannot 
countenance anything base. So it was made to believe 
that their Thalia was a wicked mother, who would sell 
not only herself, body and soul for a thousand a year, 
but her children. Thus the people were fired to a 
point where they only waited opportunity to visit their 
virtuous wrath on Dorothy's head. The Great Ille- 
gitimates declares that this actress even went to the 
length of writing letters to the Duke with the hope 
which was unavailing of prejudicing him against 

But before the affair came to its height the agree- 
ment between Dorothy and the Duke was made and 
signed, there being diverse reports concerning it, the 
general assertion being that she was given an allow- 
ance of 1000 or ,1200 a year, with an additional 
500 a year if the Duke left her. Upon this some one 
started the cry of mercenary, of immoral barter, and 
the booby public in reality excited and pleased at 
the royal favour showered upon its favourite actress 
at once took the bait, and joined in the cry, the 
paragraphs flying from column to column and ring- 
ing through every newspaper sheet in London. The 
Morning Chronicle remained her friend, and went to 
the other extreme in the following note on Novem- 
ber 29, 1791 

"Among the ungenerous attempts which have been 
made to lower Mrs. Jordan in the public estimation, 

The Prince 165 

may be ranked the information that she has made a 
mercenary agreement with her present protector. . . . 
Although she has settled half her future income from 
her profession and all that she has saved in it upon 
her children, she has absolutely rejected every idea of 
settlement or pecuniary aid herself. Her independ- 
ence is in her talents, the unrivalled excellence of 
which is evidently the cause of so much unmanly 
scurrility having lately appeared against her." But 
the Chronicle protested too much, for undoubtedly a 
settlement was made. 

During this autumn another member of the Bland 
family came to London to qualify for the bar, a cousin 
of Dorothy's, son of that James Bland who had 
been given the possession of Derryquin Castle. This 
young man went to see his uncle Nathaniel, younger 
brother of Francis Bland, and there he heard a version 
of the transaction which was probably true. For 
Nathaniel, Dorothy's uncle, had, as has been said, 
been kind to his brother's deserted children, and had 
done his best for young Francis, the eldest son, who 
it will be seen from the following extracts had not 
repaid his care. 

The long letter from which this quotation is made 
was written from the Temple Coffee House, Devereux 
Court, on November 12, 1791, to his father by Francis 
Christopher Bland, subsequently the grandfather of 
Mr. J. Franklin Fuller of Dublin, to whom I owe so 
much information about the family : 

" I have seen my Uncle Nathaniel, who received 
me very cordially, gave me a good dinner, and, I think, 
a hearty welcome. He said he would now call me 
Frank, as he had for the second and last time dis- 

1 66 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

carded the other Frank, who has again behaved very 
ill to him. Mrs. Jordan is now kept by the Duke of 
Clarence, from whom she received 3000 upon the nail 
and a settlement of 1000 a year, which, if the Prince 
was to leave her to-morrow, he cannot take away from 
her. I think, with this and thirty guineas a week, her 
theatrical salary, she may very well provide for the 
cashier'd Captain. Sir Francis (Lumm) is not yet 
arrived in Argyle Street. . . . Lady Lumm is very 
bad, and is obliged to be drawn about from one room 
to another in an arm-chair." 

As Dorothy was probably in touch with this uncle 
of hers, the actual fact of what the settlement was 
may have been made known to him by her. It must 
be agreed that if a settlement was considered necessary 
when a legal marriage took place, it was even more 
necessary in such circumstances as Dorothy's, and that 
she was right to take what steps she could to guard 

This is the only mention I have found of 3000 
down, and from a curious piece of evidence given by 
the Gazetteer of November 28 it seems to be a fact 
that she did receive a sum of money at this time. The 
paragraph was headed 


"If there were not something more fanciful than 
commendable in the distress of any person so situated 
as this lady, we should not be found to introduce the 
topic, but as it is, it may as well be given. 

"Only eleven days ago Little Pickle was, as she 
called it, in great distress. She wanted 300, and 
this being refused by the person from whom she 

The Prince 167 

expected it, she determined to raise it peremptorily 
by the sale of her furniture. A broker and his clerk 
were employed two days in appraising; then she came 
to town, said her distress was over, and gave them a 
10 note to go and laugh at it, as she said." 

Thus while out of town she had secured a sum of 
money from which to relieve herself of trouble. 

Some time between 1789 and 1791 the old bio- 
graphers were very loose about dates Dorothy is said 
to have received a substantial addition to her income 
" by the death of a near relative to her mother," which, 
together with her theatrical emolument, brought her 
income up to 3000 per annum (Secret History of the 
Green Room). This legacy is said by most writers 
to have been antecedent to her connection with the 
Duke, but it is never further explained. It is not easy 
now at a distance of a hundred and twenty-five years 
to say from whom it came, but it may have been from 
her aunt, Blanch Scuddamore Philipps, otherwise 
Mrs. Williams, who died in 1788, at the age of sixty- 
eight years. She was well-to-do, and may have left 
the niece, who was burdened with so many family 
responsibilities, something to help her discharge them. 

In the letter by Francis Christopher Bland, the 
cashiered captain, the other Frank mentioned, is 
Dorothy's eldest brother, who had been helped by his 
father's brother Nathaniel, and who had evidently 
more than once repaid his care with ingratitude, as 
well as spoilt his own chances professionally. 

The new connection with the Duke meant the read- 
justment of domestic affairs. Though Ford had 
written of Dorothy going to see his children, there is 
no evidence that he retained, nor that she was 

1 68 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

separated from, them; and when the place at Rich- 
mond was discontinued, it was necessary to find 
them another home ; and this may explain the remarks 
in the papers, which raised some curiosity, announc- 
ing that "little Pickle" and the Duke were several 
times seen walking westward in the afternoon. It 
was the Gazetteer which discovered the reason for 
this, and informed the world that the lady had taken 
a house at Brompton, "not in the Row, but in the 
town, which is more private." Here it is very prob- 
able that the children lived for a short time, but a 
year or so later a little house was taken for them on 
Ham Common, causing a wag to say that thenceforth 
it would be known as Doll Common. 

The great public excitement over Mrs. Jordan took 
place, not in Old Drury Lane, but in what up to that 
time had been called the Opera House, and then was 
known as the King's Theatre, Haymarket. For it 
had been decided that Old Drury was not sufficiently 
large or up-to-date, and that therefore it must give 
place to a more commodious building. Its demolition 
began in the summer of 1791, and the winter term was 
opened in the Haymarket, September 22, with a 
farcical prelude written for the occasion, and named 
Poor Old Drury ; The Haunted l^ower and The 
Panel, in which Dorothy acted Beatrice. 

From that date Dorothy played with great vigour, 
and Boaden says that no other great actress laboured 
as she did; she played twenty-four nights in two 
months, and very frequently two parts in one night ; 
then, if there were no other attraction, she would be 
put up for three nights running. He comments upon 
this, that if, in such a course of duty, indisposition 

The Prince 169 

sometimes caused an apology to be made, there was 
obviously a reasonable ground for it without resorting 
to caprice or blaming her private engagements. But 
he adds that it began to be whispered that she was 
able to play if she chose, or that if she was not very 
well she was not confined to her room, and if she could 
get out at all she ought to be acting. 

Twenty-four nights in two months may not seem a 
heavy task to-day, but there was more strain when the 
piece was changed every evening, and also Dorothy 
sometimes took two heavy parts in one night. At this 
period, however, all her parts were old and well worn, 
which Dorothy considered unfair, for she knew that 
a new play might mean a new success, and if it did not 
make her more popular, it would tend to brighten up 
the lustre which was around her name. 

At the end of November Richard Cceur de Lion 
was on the boards, and when the audience assembled 
to see this favourite play on Saturday the 26th the 
management announced that, as Mrs. Jordan had 
been taken violently and alarmingly ill, the play would 
be changed to High Life below Stairs. 

The audience had evidently been waiting for some 
announcement of this sort to give an opening for a 
demonstration, for instantly an extraordinary clamour 
arose. The people stamped, bawled, groaned and 

" Return the money ! " 

" Why did you not put a notice on the doors ? " 

" Mrs. Crouch ! we will only have Mrs. Crouch ! 
with her there is no occasion to lament the absence of 
Mrs. Jordan." 

So declared the Gazetteer, and other papers not 

1 70 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

only reported the disturbance joyfully, but added their 
share of criticism; "papers over which the Bacchante 
above alluded to possessed great influence, railed at 
Mrs. Jordan with the most unmerciful abuse; truth 
and falsehood were brought forward with the same 
readiness to stigmatize her," etc. 

So on the night of the 26th the audience were given 
their will, and Mrs. Crouch who was quite ready for 
the situation took the part of Matilda, another actress 
taking her character. After the second performance 
of this part by her it was reported that when she 
appeared she was received with seven or eight dis- 
tinct general and long plaudits. ' They are the 
decrees of the public that Mrs. Jordan shall have that 
part no more, whether it is held by Mrs. Crouch or 
any other person. One good we may venture to pre- 
dict from the conduct of the audience, that there will 
be fewer illnesses this season at either theatre than 
can be remembered at any other." The Public 
Advertiser joined in the howl with 

" Amidst the clamour on Saturday night ' No 
Jordan ' was distinct. An English audience, merely 
because a performer in a very narrow cast of parts 
has been successful, are not to be insulted. Mrs. 
Jordan may rest assured, notwithstanding nature has 
well formed her for certain characters for her art in 
acting is very trifling she can be better spared from 
the stage than many who give themselves less 

From Mrs. Crouch the paragraph writers turned to 
Mrs. Goodall, who took Lydia Languish's part during 
the next week, and congratulated themselves and the 
world that this elegant play had been relieved from 
the boisterous vulgarity with which it had been de- 

The Prince 171 

formed, and that the acting of Miss Farren and Palmer 
seemed to be improved by the superior performance 
of Lydia. 

The Morning Chronicle told the public that with 
the utmost authority it could state that Mrs. Jordan 
had suffered from severe indisposition, having been 
bled on Sunday morning by Dr. Keate and still being 
much indisposed. But for a whole week the audience 
condemned her, and shouted for Mrs. Crouch, prob- 
ably enjoying the fun, until Mrs. Crouch's prettiness 
and daintiness failed to keep flowing the magnetism 
with which Dorothy seemed to inspire her characters. 

That which added fuel to the fire and kept anger 
alive was the fact that early on the Sunday evening 
she was seen to leave the house in a carriage with the 
Duke of Clarence, and the following note from the 
Gaze tie er.Vfhioh at this period made a cult of reporting 
Mrs. Jordan, always taking the double duty of instruct- 
ing and reflecting the public mind and often with 
mischievous intent, is worth recording 

" And it is now with great pleasure that we inform 
Mrs. Jordan's admirers, who may have been uneasy 
on her account, that yesterday she set off in a post- 
chaise and four, from her house in Somerset Street, 
with the Most High and Most Puissant Prince His 
Royal Highness William Henry, Duke of Clarence 
in England and St. Andrew's in Scotland, Earl of 
Munster in Ireland, an Admiral of the Royal Navy, 
K.G. and K.T., for his seat at Petersham." 

If Mrs. Jordan had gone away on the Saturday it 
might have been definitely judged that the illness was 
an excuse only ; but as she remained in Somerset Street 
and was attended by a doctor that day and Sunday, it 
was probably a reality, though had she known how 

172 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

seriously it would have been taken she might have 
made an effort to go through with her work. 

Some of these papers had in September declared 
that Mrs. Jordan was again in a fair way to increase 
the population, and the two historians upon the life 
of King William, the Rev. Dr. John Watkins and the 
Rev. William Wright, 1 attribute her illness on the 
night of September 26 as due to a confinement. This 
was scarcely possible, though it might have been due 
to another miscarriage. 

Certainly on the Monday, perhaps on the Sunday, 
Dorothy would have learned of the row at the theatre, 
and have rightly judged that it would be useless for 
her to return to the stage for some days, for a theatre 
mob was like a beast of prey, ready to tear its greatest 
favourite equally with its most hated bore. Thus for 
a space Mrs. Crouch sat on a pedestal and hugged 
herself with triumph, hoping that at last she had 
managed to sweep from her path the one person who 
seemed able always to put her in the second place. 

In spite of her banishment from London, Dorothy 
did not sit and mourn; rather did she amuse herself 
in the country, taking part, among other entertain- 
ments, in a gathering given by the Duke to his Rich- 
mond friends, November 30. Clarence may truly 
have been said to be wanting in tact, for during this 
month he had promised to go to a party given by a 
Mrs. Bouverie, and with the utmost coolness he asked 
whether he might bring a lady with him. To this Mrs. 
Bouverie answered that any lady he wished to intro- 
duce would be welcome. When the evening arrived 
who should accompany him but " Mrs. Pickle," 

1 As these two histories are identical, save for later news in one 
concerning the King, the Rev. William Wright was probably but a 
pseudonym for Watkins, in order to give an old book a new lease of life. 

The Prince 173 

hitherto accepted in that house as Mrs. Ford. The 
ladies present said nothing, Mrs. Jordan was very 
entertaining, sang a number of droll songs, told a few 
stories, and Mrs. Bouverie did not mention Mrs. Ford ! 
There was probably much consultation in the Peter- 
sham Lodge circle over the serious theatrical situation, 
for the Duke had no idea of Dorothy's remaining idle ; 
so during the week succeeding the fiasco of the 
Saturday the following letter was sent out to the 
papers, addressed from the Drury Lane Treasury 

" SIR, 

" I have submitted in silence to the unprovoked 
and unmanly abuse which for some time past has been 
directed upon me, because it has related to subjects 
about which the public could not be interested ; but to 
an attack upon my conduct in my profession, and on 
the charge of want of gratitude and respect to the 
public, I think it is my duty to reply. Nothing can 
be more cruel or unfounded than the information that 
I absented myself from the theatre on Saturday last 
from any other cause than real inability from illness 
to sustain my part in the entertainment. I have ever 
been ready and proud to exert myself to the utmost 
of my strength to fulfil my engagements with the 
theatre and to manifest my respect for the audience, 
and no person can be more grateful for the indulgence 
and applause with which I have been constantly 
honoured. I would not intrude upon the public an 
allusion to anything that does not relate to my pro- 
fession, in which alone I may without presumption 
say I am accountable to them; but thus called on in 
the present instance there can be no impropriety in 

174 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

my answering those who have so ingeniously attacked 
me, that if they could drive me from that profession 
they would take from me the only income I have or 
mean to possess ; the whole earning of which upon the 
past and one half for the future I have already settled 
upon my children. Unjustly and cruelly traduced as 
I have been upon this subject, I trust that this short 
declaration will not be deemed impertinent, and for 
the rest I appeal with confidence to the justice and 
generosity of the public. 

" Yours, etc., 


The response to this in the form of an open letter 
was published on December 3 by those papers which, 
having condemned, were not too virulent to retract. 


" As your very sensible and feeling appeal to 
the public must have completely done away any 
momentary unfavourable impression that might have 
been made by the industrious malice that has so long 
and so laboriously been exercised at your expense 
if any impression has been made, which I by no 
means admit to have been the case, except in the con- 
tempt that has been excited against its authors- 
justice requires that you should immediately recom- 
mence your theatrical exertions, and in the applause 
that you will receive exact the severest retribution from 
your base and dastardly libellers. 


This was turning the tables with some complete- 

The Prince 175 

ness, but it was not until a week had passed that an 
announcement of Dorothy's reappearance was made, 
and The Morning Chronicle of December 10 added 
the paragraph : " Mrs. Jordan is particularly prohibited 
from singing by her physician, because the exertion 
will renew the spitting of blood." 

Dorothy appeared that night, and every means was 
taken by herself and her friends to ensure a good 
reception. The Prince of Wales, with Col. St. Leger, 
Count Belsance and Major Hanger were in one box, 
the Duchess of Gloucester with her son, Prince 
William, was in another, and many other interested 
friends to the Duke were in different parts of the 
house. The Duke of Clarence himself stood behind 
the scenes on the King's side of the house, and 
received Mrs. Jordan when she left the stage, handing 
her into her carriage at the end. 

The crush outside the theatre at the beginning was 
so great that several hundreds were unable to get in, 
and Mrs. Jordan's first appearance on the stage was 
welcomed with reiterated shouts of applause, though 
a few unreconcilables hissed. The tumult subsiding, 
she came forward, and in a voice clear enough to 
penetrate every part of the house, said 


" I should consider myself as totally unworthy 
of the distinct favour and approbation I have ever 
received from you if the smallest mark of your dis- 
pleasure did not sensibly afflict me. Give me leave to 
assure you that I never absented myself from the 
theatre but when compelled to it by real indisposition. 
Ever since I have had the honour and happiness of 
appearing before you, it has been my pride, my unre- 
mitting study to endeavour to entertain and amuse 

176 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

you, and I trust I may while so employed consider 
myself as under your protection." 

Boaden, who was present in the theatre that night, 
owns that he thoroughly enjoyed it, adding his 
criticism that : " While making the protest on the stage 
her manner was extremely good; the little hardship 
that sat upon her brow, and, like a cloud, kept back 
the comic smile that but waited their cheer to burst 
forth, the graceful obeisance that followed her com- 
plete triumph (for it was complete), and the mode in 
which she resumed her task to delight, after she had 
personally suffered pain were all inimitable." 

Of this event The Great Illegitimates grandilo- 
quently said : " Such is the creature doomed to 
encounter the shafts of some despicable wretch, who 
from personal hatred, or more probably suborned to 
do the work of a hidden assassin of character (mean- 
ing Richard Ford), embodies his venom in the filthy 
columns of the most venal of prints, thus attempting 
to stab a reputation too permanently established in the 
good opinion of the public." 

These "most venal of prints" now proceeded to 
congratulate the public on retaining a charming actress 
who would no doubt long continue to deserve their 
kindness, and who had certainly suffered much more 
than could be deserved even if the suspicions relative 
to her had not been sufficiently removed. 

So ended this exciting episode, though the hints 
that she intended to retire from the stage were kept 
alive by her enemies. 

But if Dorothy's faults were allowed to be buried 
for a time, those of the Duke of Clarence were well 
canvassed; if Dorothy was accused of sharing his 
establishment from mercenary motives alone, the 

The Prince 177 

Duke was charged with a mercenariness which was 
far meaner. The Bon Ton and many other periodicals 
asserted that he was so short of money that he collected 
Mrs. Jordan's salary in person, and even took it in 
advance on the night of the performance. As early 
as November 3 it was reported at the end of a para- 
graph that : " We have only to add that as Banker 
to Her Highness he actually received her week's 
salary from the Treasurer on Saturday last ! " Ten 
days later Peter Pindar, Jun., gave to the laughing 
gossips the verse which heads this chapter. Other 
gibes followed, one paper going so far as to say that 
the Duke forebade Dorothy to appear unless the 
money were first paid. 

In the middle of December a caricature was 
published, entitled " Saturday Morning," or the 
' Theatrical Pay-day," in which the theatrical manager 
stands on one side of a counter and the Duke on the 
other, the former bowing, and saying : " We under- 
stand as much you are welcome each week and we 
wish you a good Benefit with your bargain." The 
latter murmurs, while sweeping a lot of gold coins into 
an earthenware vase : " My precious eyes and limbs, 
this belongs to the Jordan, but it is mine," etc. 

Punch declared years later that the Duke of 
Clarence was often behind the scenes in Drury Lane 
Theatre, adding, " indeed, it is said that the royal 
autograph is extant in the Saturday Treasury book for 
Mrs. Jordan's salary." 

Unfortunately that Treasury volume has since dis- 
appeared from the world of books that are no books. 

The caricaturists were extremely active over the 
royal love affair, and skits of all sorts were published, 
some shocking in their vulgarity, all more or less 

178 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

coarse. December 2 , 1791, saw one issued giving a pic- 
ture of the stage, Dorothy looking horribly ill sitting 
on the Duke's knee, and he offering her a glass of gin. 

" Indeed, indeed, I am indisposed, upon my 
honour," she is saying, to which the Duke replies 

" My poor, dear little Pickle. the lubbers, I 

wish I had them lashed fast to the main rigging, I'd 
give them a dozen a-piece." 

Earlier than this Dorothy had been shown as stand- 
ing before a mirror, dressed in purple and wearing a 
duchess's coronet. " Oh, Gemini," she is saying, " is 
that gay, fine thing me ? If it is, and the glass be true, 
I am no less than my Lady Duchess ! '' 

From that time the title of duchess was flung at her 
in and out of season, her brother George coming in 
for a share of the compliments in such paragraphs as : 
" Interest is making to have Bland the actor knighted ; 
it is so awkward to have the brother of a Duchess a 
plain Mister. The title he solicits is Sir Simpleton 
Squeekum." Or : " Little Eland's husband has lately 
added to the family escutcheon the arms of a -prince, 
and he triumphantly bears it about with him on every 


Years later, when Dorothy was cast for the part of 
Sir Edward Bloomly in Fred Reynolds's comedy of 
Cheap Living, and she was inclined to resent it, for 
she was then a-weary of breeches parts and of playing 
the dissipated youth, the irritated manager Wroughton 

"Why, you are grand, madam, quite the duchess 
again this morning ! " 

:< Very likely," replied Dorothy, " for you are not 
the first person this very day who has condescended 
to honour me with the title." 

The Prince 179 

Then, without the slightest pique and with all her 
characteristic humour, she told how, having to dis- 
charge her Irish cook for impertinence, when she paid 
her the wages due the woman showed her a shilling, 
and banging it down on the table, cried 

"Arrah, me honey, with this thirteener won't I sit 
in the gallery? and won't your Grace give me a 
curtsy ? and won't I give your Royal Highness a howl 
and a hiss into the bargain ? " 

A picture, drawn by Gillray and given to the grin- 
ning public on October 24, was called " The Devil to 
Pay : the Wife Metamorphosed, or Neptune Repos- 
ing," in which the Prince is shown asleep, but Dorothy 
is sitting up in bed, and saying in bewilderment : 
:t What pleasant dreams I have had to-night ! Me- 
thought I was in Paradise upon a bed of violets and 
roses. Ha ! bless me ! where am I now? Am I in a 
bed ? The sheets are sarcenet sure, no linen ever was 
so fine. What a gay silken robe have I got? Oh, 
heaven ! I dream. Yet if this be a dream I would not 
wish to wake again. Sure I died last night and went 
to heaven ! " Some of the letterpress upon this is too 
coarse to be repeated in full, and the plate itself was 
one of a number rigidly suppressed. 

Mrs. Fitzherbert, poor woman a separation had 
just been arranged between her and the Prince of 
Wales because of his marriage had never any kind- 
ness for Dorothy. Their cases were so similar in spite 
of the marriage ceremony, which she knew to be 
illegal, that Mrs. Fitzherbert, clinging as she did to 
social station, could not afford to be friendly. 
The cartoonists fastened upon this in such pictures 
as "The Pot calling the Kettle Black," which 
showed the buxom Mrs. Fitzherbert, wearing a blue 

i8o The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

ribbon with Ich Dien worked upon it in her hair, 
turning her back upon Dorothy, and asking how she 
dares to enter her presence, or to think that she would 
keep company with such a pickle. " Pray, sir," she 
continues to the Duke, " keep your creature out of my 
sight, I am an honest woman, I am." 

Dorothy responds in like manner, pointing out that 
if Mrs. Fitzherbert has as many thousands as she has 
hundreds (the former was accredited with obtaining 
10,000 a year), then she was the worse of the two. 
Clarence says apologetically to the Prince : " Why, 
you know, George, we leaped the broom as well as 
you, and though you palavered a good deal to quiet 
the lady's conscience, I did it with less ceremony, 
that's all/ 3 

Another suppressed plate was of the Duke of 
Clarence running, with broken china tied to his coat- 
tails, Mrs. Fitzherbert and other women following and 
scolding him, while the Duke utters unrepeatable 

Another skit, "A Virtuous Flame," represented the 
Duke of York and his bride passing before a house, 
at the window of which sit Clarence and Mrs. Jordan, 
she in the least covering of garments; and a further 
jeer at the royal family was entitled "Vices Over- 
looked at the New Proclamation." In this the Queen, 
hugging bags marked 3,000,000, sits at a table 
opposite the King, whose money bags contain 
5,000,000, denoting avarice; drunkenness is exem- 
plified by the Prince of Wales being led home by 
watchmen, gambling by the Duke of York at cards, 
and debauchery by Clarence and Mrs. Jordan 

By the end of December Ford had returned to 

The Prince 181 

England, and he joined the band of Dorothy's 
enemies, attending Mrs. Crouch's revels and going 
there to little suppers after the play. He also recom- 
menced his visits behind the stage and to the Green 
Room, and probably was not above making himself 
obnoxious to the woman whom he had, morally, 
deserted. If the papers are to be trusted the Duke 
asked Sheridan to forbid Ford's entry behind the 
scenes, for the following was published by one of the 
morning journals on December 13 

" The naval officer, who too often infests the scenes 
of the Haymarket to the annoyance of every one who 
belongs to the house, but one, had the modesty the 
other day to desire Mr. Sheridan to forbid Mr. Ford 
the privilege of appearing behind the scenes. Mr. 
Sheridan very properly told the naval officer that 
Mr. Ford's behaviour as a gentleman precluded 
such a prohibition, and that in -point of right Mr. 
Ford had as much pretension as (Mr. Sheridan) 

That this left-handed alliance provoked much 
curiosity and no displeasure at Court is proved by the 
fact that the King and Queen went to the theatre on 
the 4th of January, 1792. Since the King's illness they 
had shunned Drury Lane, for they hated Sheridan as 
one who encouraged the Prince of Wales in his 
assumption of power, but their interest was too keen 
for resistance ; so we find the King and Queen occupy- 
ing a box "at a distance of three from the stage/' 
where it was easier to see every corner than from the 
stage box; six of the Princesses were in the box on 
the left of their parents, the Duke and the Duchess 
of York and the Duke of Clarence being in a box 
exactly opposite. "Their Majesties' gratification 

1 82 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

broke forth in the most rapturous of expressions," said 
The Advertiser. 

A bad accident, however, preceded this perform- 
ance, for the public's anxiety to see how their sovereign 
would look upon Mrs. Jordan had brought overwhelm- 
ing crowds, and the Royal Theatre, Haymarket, was 
a place of narrow passages and steep steps. One 
man was trampled to death, and one woman terribly 
injured in the struggle to get down the stairs to the 
pit. This was, however, hidden from the royal visitors. 

The oft-repeated story of the King's comment on 
his son's new domesticity may or may not be true, 
but it is certainly characteristic of George's love of 

" Clarence ! Clarence ! how's this ? You you keep 
an actress keep an actress ! " 

" Yes, Sire." 

" Ah ! how much d'ye give her, eh ? " 

" A thousand a year, Sire." 

" A thousand too much, too much ! Five hundred." 

Some wag later added that the Duke wrote to 
Dorothy (there was really no need for him to write] 
and repeated the parental dictum, and that she, tear- 
ing off the bottom of a play-bill upon which was 
printed " No money returned after the raising of the 
curtain ! " enclosed it in an envelope to him. 

Dorothy Jordan was quite outspoken, and she was 
not a fine lady, but she had much of good sense, which 
would have condemned such a vulgarity. Also I find 
that the usual announcement at the bottom of a London 
play-bill was simply, " No money to be returned ! " 
Thus, in any case, the latter part of the sentence must 
be regarded as embroidery. 



" Need any bard despair, 
If Jordan serve and Bannister be there?" 

" Mrs. Jordan, delightful Mrs. Jordan, whose voice did away the cares 
of the whole house, before they saw her come in." LEIGH HUNT. 

DOROTHY JORDAN was not exempt from a certain 
vanity which expresses itself in all ages, that of 
having her portrait painted, and there are an extra- 
ordinary number of her portraits still in existence, 
though our National Portrait Gallery does not pos- 
sess one. She was represented as Nell, Peggy, 
Priscilla Tomboy, Hypolita, Lucy, Fidelia, Phaedra, 
Isabel, Matilda, Rosalind, with Falstaff, and as the 
Comic Muse. Among the artists were Romney, who 
painted six pictures of her; Hoppner, who painted 
three, his Mrs. Jordan as Hypolita being judged by 
some critics as his masterpiece; Gainsborough, 
Morland, W. A. Chalmers and others. 

One of the earliest portraits painted of Dorothy was 
that now known as The Country Girl, by Romney, her 
first sitting for this being on November 17, I786. 1 
Twelve times between that date and January 15, 1787, 
did she go to Romney 3 s studio, always between one 
and two in the day, her address being at that time 
5 Gower Street. Concerning the pose of this picture 
a note given from Sir Henry Russell's MS. presents 
her characteristically 

1 Romney ', by Humphry Ward and W. Roberts. 

184 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

" I recollect hearing Romney describe her as she 
came to sit to him for her picture. For some time 
they could hit upon no attitude that pleased them both : 
whatever the one proposed the other rejected; at last 
Mrs. Jordan, pretending to be tired and to be going 
away, sprang out of her chair, and putting herself into 
an attitude, and using an expression belonging to her 
popular part in The Romp, said 

" ' Well, I'm a-going/ 

" Romney instantly exclaimed, ' That will do ! ' and 
in that attitude and uttering that expression he painted 

This portrait was intended to represent Priscilla 
Tomboy in The Romp, but when engraved in 1788, 
by John Ogborne, it was called Peggy in The Country 
Girl, and has always since retained that name. 
Though Dorothy spent some time in sitting for the 
portrait she evidently neither took possession of it nor 
paid for it, for it was not until November 26, 1791, 
that it left Romney's studio, having become the pro- 
perty of the Duke of Clarence, who had paid seventy 
guineas for it to the artist, and who ordered it to be 
sent to Petersham Lodge. 

This picture must have appealed to Romney, for 
he made three versions of it, one of which was given 
by the Duke to his daughter Amelia, who married 
Viscount Falkland, this being now in the Falkland 
collection ; a second was in the possession of Dorothy's 
eldest son, the Earl of Munster, and though this is 
said to have been sold to the late Baron F. de Roths- 
child, it still hangs in the present Earl of Munster's 
drawing-room. Another copy was in 1894 in the 
possession of Sir Charles Tennant. The picture which 
the Duke of Clarence retained for forty years hung 

Domesticity and Work 185 

in his dining-room at Bushey Park, and when Queen 
Adelaide died in 1849 our national jester and exponent 
of true sentiment, Punch, told its readers the follow- 
ing anecdote : Upon a certain benefit the actor Dow- 
ton waited upon the sailor Duke, and was received 
with the old kindness and simplicity. In the course 
of the interview, the Duke observed the actor look 
significantly at a portrait over the chimney the 
portrait of Mrs. Jordan. " Yes, Dowton," said the 
Duke, " she was an excellent woman ; and, by the 
way, Fll tell you a little story about that picture. It 
always hung there, but some time before I was married 
to the Duchess I caused it to be removed. Well, 
shortly after I brought the Duchess home, I found one 
morning the picture in its old place. ' This/ said the 
Duchess, ' was done at my desire. I discovered that 
the picture had long hung there ; it was the picture of 
the mother of your children, and it was not fit that it 
should be displaced. You must gratify me and let it 


The Garrick Club possesses a Romney portrait of 
Dorothy, and there are several others. Romney, like 
Greuze and Lely, painted a certain expression into 
the faces of his sitters which, while adding to the 
regularity of their beauty and the sweetness of their 
bearing, perhaps helped to lose something of indi- 
viduality and character. Thus, comparing all the 
portraits together, that of her in the part of Hypolita 
gives probably the most characteristic likeness. 

Hoppner was the first to produce an elaborate sub- 
ject picture of Dorothy, one, which as the Comic Muse 
was exhibited in 1786 in the Academy, being sternly 
criticized. This for many years hung at Hampton 
Court, though now it has a place in Buckingham 

1 86 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Palace. He also painted her as Hypolita before 1791, 
and as Rosalind and Matilda. The Rosalind was 
exhibited at the Academy in 1796 and sold in 1894 
for noo guineas. 

One of Gainsborough's last pictures was a Portrait 
of Mrs. Jordan, and George Morland also depicted 
her in his later days, probably in 1800. 

The sketch of her known as " The Comic Muse, by 
Goles," was made about 1787, and the portrait of her 
as Sir Henry Wildair, by W. A. Chalmers, must have 
been painted immediately after the famous benefit 
night in the spring of 1788, for it was engraved before 
November of that year. 1 Thus between 1785 and 1791 
some of the most noted of Dorothy's portraits were 
already in existence, although some of these were 
erroneously said later to have been painted for the 
Duke of Clarence. 

In 1792 another portrait by Chalmers was published 
as a frontispiece to a farce by George Saville Carey, 
entitled Dupes of Fancy, or Every Man his own 
Hobby. In this Dorothy wears hat and feathers with 
ribbons tied under her chin, a distinguishing feature 
of the picture being a brooch with the Duke's portrait. 
Saville prefaced his farce with an adulatory dedication 
to Dorothy, part of which ran : " The tutelary sisters 
Melpomene and Thalia, who preside over all scenic 
acts, have taken you by the hand and placed you on 
a pedestal so high that envy lowers her scowling front 
whenever she casts her jaundiced eye upon your 
exalted station, for you justly assimilate the pathetic 
manners of the one, and fascinate with the bewitching 
archness of the other." 

1 " Pictures of Mrs. Jordan," by W. J. Lawrence, in The Connoisstur. 

Domesticity and Work 187 

Dorothy thought it no shame to wear the Duke's 
picture at her breast at all times, and a story is told 
that when in September 1792 she went to see a young 
actress, Mrs. Litchfield, play at Richmond, she 
clapped so heartily that her hands caught and broke a 
golden chain that held his miniature, which dropped 
upon the stage. 

Dorothy was, indeed, always ready to stand by her 
actions. She had consented to throw in her lot with 
the Duke, and she did it with her face to the world. 
She made no attempt at self-deception as did Mrs. 
Fitzherbert, and she sqems not to have been troubled 
by any qualms of conscience. If fate had decreed that 
she should never be legally wed, she would accept that 
decree with as gay a heart as possible. She had done 
little which was outside the code of morality of her 
fellow-workers at the theatre, many of whom, like the 
artists in the Quartier Latin of a later date, considered 
that there was nothing derogatory or blameworthy in 
a union unsanctioned by the Church. Although The 
Secret History of the Green Room said that morally 
her conduct was not to be defended, it admitted that, 
as a partner of a man's life and as a mother, it was 
" worthy the imitation of many ladies who had actually 
entered into the state of matrimony," for her loyalty 
never swerved. 

To her credit it must be put that during the twenty 
years which she passed by the side of the Duke of 
Clarence, but for one or two passing whispers, scandal 
was silent as to the doings of that Prince. He settled 
down as other men who are married settled down to 
the quiet domestic life; he became keenly interested 
in the children who were born to them, superintending 
their lives and giving them a father's affection. He 

1 88 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

also held the high hand over Dorothy's work, so that 
she never accepted an engagement' without his permis- 
sion, and when a new play was offered for her con- 
sideration he read it first and would taboo it if he 
thought it unsuited to her. 

Dorothy, having taken this position, was faithful to 
it all through, so that this union was as clean and 
commonplace and sane as any ordinary marriage. She 
turned an erratic and coarse youth into the nearest she 
could to a reputable family man, and she did more 
than this, for, as her letters show, she took a keen 
interest in his parliamentary career and inspired the 
best of his efforts. England could have done very 
well without his speeches, but the fact remains that he 
was a better man for trying to work than he would 
have been had he remained inert. 

In 1792 the Duke began his series of tirades against 
the abolition of the Slave Trade, and was regarded 
as voicing the thoughts of the royal family. His 
speeches were superlative examples of insufficient 
knowledge, violence and vituperation; but they im- 
plied a mental effort and an attempt to express his 
conclusions concerning things he had seen in America 
and Jamaica. When some years later, the enlightened 
Lords brought in a bill to forbid any divorced person 
marrying again, he added to the discussions some 
arguments which can only have been the result of a 
thoughtful woman's influence. 

He opposed the bill on the grounds that it would 
bear most heavily upon women, and would give them 
no chance either of regaining respectability or even of 
living at all. At that time if a wife were found guilty 
she was not only divorced and disgraced, but her hus- 
band secured the whole of her dowry or property in 

Domesticity and Work 189 

any form. Thus she was turned out into the world 
homeless and penniless, her only chance being the 
humanity of her lover. To deprive her of that the 
Duke argued was generally to drive her to prostitu- 
tion or to suicide. 

So far it was a remarkably enlightened speech, but 
it made no effect upon the Lords, perhaps because 
this unmarried husband prefaced and punctuated his 
arguments with such sentences as : "If any such there 
should ever unfortunately be, who, forgetting what 
they owed to their God, their country and themselves, 
should be induced to lead a profligate and immoral 
life/ 5 etc., etc. 

While anchored to Dorothy Clarence was, however, 
fairly respectable, and being of no great importance, 
he sank into a comfortable obscurity, the limelight 
being only very occasionally turned upon him; after 
the separation between them, however, he again 
became the butt of the papers and the caricaturists, 
the weak lover of women, the sordid hunter for money. 

Through the spring and summer of 1792 Dorothy 
acted constantly, mostly in old characters : The 
Fugitive, by Richardson, in April, being the only 
novelty. Upon her playing Nell in The Country Girl 
for her benefit The Bon Ton Magazine sarcastically 
informed its readers that Mrs. Jordan had so bad an 
attack of gout in the right hand that the Duke of 
Clarence was absolutely obliged to take the trouble 
of helping her with her benefit tickets. The scale of 
receipts for the various benefits this year was as 
follows : Bannister ,545, Jordan 540, Siddons 490, 
Kemble 480, and Crouch 470, which gives some 
indication of relative popularity. That Dorothy's 
benefits generally put her near the top of the list, did 

190 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

not make her more loved by the Kembles or her other 
rivals; and Kemble gave her little scope for new 
triumphs, a matter which was seething in Dorothy's 
mind, to bear fruit in the autumn. Most writers on the 
subject place her absence from the stage immediately 
after her reconciliation with the public. The Secret 
History of the Green Room, for instance, says that 
the papers " did all in their power to drive her from 
the stage, on account of her connection with the Duke 
of Clarence, and now that she does not perform they 
accuse her of ingratitude, of refusing to amuse that 
public which, a little month ago, they pretended would 
never suffer her again to appear before them ! Can 
anything be more insulting to common justice, or to 
common sense ? " The theatre advertisements show, 
however, that Dorothy was constantly on the stage 
until she became ill at the end of July, and before this 
happened her name was dragged prominently before 
Society over a small affair of royal want of tact. 

Mrs. Hobart, who lived at Richmond, was devoted 
to amateur theatricals and cards, her husband sharing 
the acting mania, so much so that though the heir to 
his brother, the Earl of Buckinghamshire, he was for 
a time manager of the Opera House. This Mrs. 
Hobart, who was then over fifty and so fat as to be 
dubbed by the gossips Mrs. Circumference, was noted 
for her garden parties in the country, her faro parties 
in town, and her theatricals in both places. 

At all of these the Princes were her constant guests, 
and she also knew Dorothy. " The Hon. Mrs. Hobart 
and Little Pickle are to visit, already they have one 
box in common at the Haymarket. The Romp's 
salary, indeed, is an object to any of the Pharo tables," 
commented the malicious Bon Ton Magazine. 

Domesticity and Work 191 

To a "rural breakfast" at the end of May 1792 
Mrs. Hobart had invited the usual crowd, but the morn- 
ing brought a deluge of rain, and the lady was in an 
irritable frame of mind, when a note from Petersham 
Lodge was delivered. It ran 

" Mrs. Jordan presents her compliments to Mrs. 
Hobart, and at the request of his Royal Highness the 
Duke of Clarence, begs leave to offer his excuses for 
not being able to wait on her to-day, having a previous 
engagement, which he forgot till this morning. Should 
Mrs. Hobart' s fete be put off on account of the badness 
of the weather till Monday or any other day, his Royal 
Highness will be extremely happy to wait on her/' 

Mrs. Hobart must have been inwardly delighted 
with this delicious letter, though she would not own to 
it. The day was bad and her party spoiled, but 
heaven had sent her the wherewithal to amuse her 
guests, and she made the very most of it, for, with vivid 
expressions of scorn and anger, she passed the letter 
about. The ripples caused by the incident quickly 
spread through society to the papers ; " By the rights 
of man all women are on an equality, and vice mutato 
nomine is virtue " one commented. The most piquant 
note was given by the acid pen of Walpole. " Mrs. 
Hobart, poor lady, she has already miscarried of two 
fetes of which she was big, and yet next minute she 
was pregnant of another. Those fausses couches and 
Mrs. Jordan's epistle to her, and daily as well as 
nightly robberies, have occasioned as much cackling 
in this district as if a thousand hen roosts had been 
disturbed together." 

At Mrs. Hobart's second party in July there was no 

192 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

need for Little Pickle to write another letter of excuse, 
for " her Billy was not invited." 

At the end of that month Dorothy fell ill, and on 
August 6 she had a serious miscarriage of a five months' 
child. " It died immediately," said The Gentleman's 
Magazine. There is some reason to suspect that this 
was really the birth of the first child Sophia, hidden for 
fear of again raising a storm of public opinion, as she 
is supposed to be the eldest Fitzclarence, and George 
was born in January 1794. If so, Dorothy's subse- 
quent absence from the stage would be accounted for. 
During this illness the Duke was the most devoted of 
men if we may judge by his letters. One, written to 
Admiral Sir Charles Christian on August 10, will 
sufficiently show this 

' This morning I received yours, and in return am 
to acknowledge your kind inquiries after Mrs. Jordan. 
The papers have on this occasion told truth, for she 
was last week for some hours in danger, but now, thank 
God, she is much better and I hope in a fair way of 
perfect recovery. It is my present intention to set out 
on the 23rd inst. for the seaside, in order that Mrs. 
Jordan may bathe for six weeks. As the place we 
mean to go to is no great distance from the Isle of 
Wight, and if you have nothing better to do, I should 
be very happy to see you there, and Mrs. Jordan has 
likewise desired me to say as much." 

However, on September 26 he wrote again from 
Petersham : " I beg leave to acknowledge the receipt 
of your friendly letter of the 2ist inst., and to request 
you will accept Mrs. Jordan's thanks as well as my 
own for your very handsome offer of your house in the 
Isle of Wight; it is still a matter of doubt whether we 

Domesticity and Work 193 

shall go at all to the seaside, the weather being so 
far advanced; but the Duchess of Cleveland has 
promised me a house at Margate, which if I go I mean 
to use." * 

All through that autumn many tales were told to 
account for Dorothy's absence from the theatre. It 
was said that she demanded the Siddons's system, of 
a large payment for one night's acting instead of a 
weekly salary, that " the town was not full enough for 
her ladyship to appear," that she had deliberately put 
herself on the shelf. But it may be that she found 
it impossible to act in the inimical atmosphere of the 
theatre, for in addition to the jealousy of her rivals, 
the quarrel with Kemble had again come to a climax. 
He steadily refused to put on these new plays, in which 
both dramatists and performers delight. As Boaden 
admiringly remarked : " Mr. Kemble always did his 
utmost to keep down this rage for novelty." Yet 
history shows that the theatre's worst times were when 
the manager was afflicted by that particular form of 
economy. Kemble himself was something of a victim, 
for he had got to that point when he could secure 
nothing from Sheridan and felt cramped all ways. At 
last he determined to have it out with his chief, taking 
the opportunity when both were supping with Mrs. 
Crouch. He began operations by refusing, on enter- 
ing, to speak to R. B. S., then, after seating himself 
at table, he rose and fixing his eyes upon Sheridan, 

" I am an eagle whose wings have been bound down 
by frosts and snows ; but now I shake my pinions, and 
cleave into the general air, unto which I was born." 

1 Romantic Annals of a Naval Family -, by H. M. A. Traherne. 


194 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Then he sat down, " looking as if he had relieved 
himself of an intolerable thraldom." Sheridan, know- 
ing his man, moved his chair to Kemble's side, and by 
two minutes' smoothing had brought him back into 

Mrs. Jordan, however, could not so win Kemble, 
and it was not until she had once more appealed to 
Sheridan that her wishes received attention. Her 
letter to him was as follows 

" SIR, 

" From the very handsome manner in which 
you acceded to my proposals, and, as I conceived, 
concluded my engagement, I flattered myself that I 
should have no difficulty to encounter in immediately 
entering into my agreement with you an event I have 
waited for with increased anxiety, from the circum- 
stance of having, through your liberality, been for 
some time in the receipt of a very large salary, without 
being permitted to perform. 

" I am totally at a loss to account for the conduct 
of the manager, in any other way than his continued 
disinclination to let me appear in any new character 
whatever, a complaint I have often been constrained 
to make to you, and you have as often acknow- 
ledged the justice of it; and in our last negotiation 
endeavoured effectually to remove, but without 

" As a duty I owe myself and the public I mean to 
publish a copy of this letter, to serve as a simple but 
fair contradiction to some malicious reports that are 
circulated, insinuating that / have withdrawn myself 
from their protection, a circumstance I have every 
reason to be proud of, of which I shall ever retain the 

Domesticity and Work 195 

most grateful remembrance, accompanied by the 
sincerest regret at being deprived of the happiness of 
manifesting, in the duties of my profession, the truth 
of this assertion. You, sir, I make no doubt, will 
candidly confess that I have already been too much 
tormented with regard to this engagement, and also, 
from this unnecessary delay in bringing forward the 
comedy, that it is now void; and when I assure you 
that my situation at the theatre has for a considerable 
time been made very irksome to me, and that, should 
I attempt to continue in it out of respect to you, I 
should subject myself to still greater perplexities, 
which it is not in your power to prevent; I am there- 
fore confident that you will release me from that kind 
of embarrassment, which the liberality of your conduct 
towards me, makes me suffer, in the justice of my wish 
to quit the Haymarket Theatre. 

" In complying with the above request you will 
greatly add to the favours already conferred on, 

" Sir, 

" Yours, etc., 


"Somerset Street, 

"Jan. 29, 1793." 

From this letter it may be inferred that Dorothy had 
entered into a new and advantageous engagement, in 
which she had made it a condition that she should be 
allowed fresh characters to act. This condition had 
become centred round a play called Anna, which a Miss 
Cuthbertson had written especially for Dorothy, and 
which Dorothy had in her turn altered to suit herself. 
Thus it is probably true that she staked her reappear- 
ance on the Drury Lane stage upon the production of 
this play, and that Kemble held out against it. However. 

196 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

this letter to Sheridan settled the matter* for on 
February 22 Dorothy was back on the boards as 
Laetitia Hardy, and on the 25th the new play was put 
on. It probably was not a good play, for it most 
certainly was not a success. And to help its fall 
Kemble's attitude was too strongly apparent for the 
actors to do their best in it, or for the critics to praise. 
It was acted only once, and, as the pliant Boaden 
says, " both triumphed." " Alas ! poor Anna" 
mourned the more humorous Wilkinson, " she dropped 
like an unfortunate young lady's pad." 

From that date Dorothy continued playing in many 
of her old parts, while two new ones were added to her 
list : Lady Restless in All in the Wrong, and Clara in 
The Female Duellist. She was not great in Lady 
Restless, for she was not really meant for the fine 
lady, and was more apt to kick her train out of her 
way than to move with languid grace. But in all that 
she played the town was delighted to see her again, 
and little as Kemble would have allowed it, prosperity 
shone more certainly over the theatre when she was 
actively in the company. 

However, the trouble between the two great actors, 
though scotched was not killed, and through the spring 
it resolved itself into another, somewhat to the amuse- 
ment of the other actors and the public, for now it 
took the form of a dispute over the wording of the 
play bills. It had for long been the custom to 
advertise, first the men's parts, putting the most 
important characters last in such words as "And 
Macbeth, Mr. Kemble." This was followed by the 
women's parts ending, for example, with " And Nell, 
Mrs. Jordan." 

Kemble, who was something of a solemn arbiter 

Domesticity and Work 197 

upon trifles, invented a new bill which gave precedence 
to conventional social status without regard to the 
importance of the characters in the play. So Dorothy, 
who, since the first month of her London career, had 
held the post of honour in print, now saw her name 
placed on a level with the rank and file, and she 
rebelled. Other actors did the same thing Lee 
Lewis threw up his engagement with Stephen Kemble 
rather than submit to it; but Dorothy, being the most 
renowned dissenter from the new custom, was made 
the most of as a rebel, and her name was bandied about 
in jokes, questioning her real importance. Who was 
she ? And who was her husband ? Why, her husband 
had been killed in the battle of Nubibus, etc. 

In the autumn of 1793 the Drury Lane company 
was without a home, for the Haymarket Theatre was 
needed for opera. Colman the younger made an 
arrangement with Sheridan to engage some of his 
actors for what was then known as the Little Theatre, 
but Mrs. Siddons, Dorothy, Miss Farren and the 
Popes were not of that number, they being probably 
beyond Colman's means. This did not trouble 
Dorothy, for on January 23, 1794, her first Clarence 
son was born, receiving the name of George Augustus 
Frederick. Up to this date her family consisted of 
four girls; Frances Daly, Hester, Dorothea Maria, 
and Lucy Ford. Two premature births had also been 
announced, a boy in 1791 and a girl in 1792. That 
Mrs. Jordan was happy in her enforced idleness can 
scarcely be doubted, but when the new Drury Lane 
opened and its programme excluded her name con- 
jecture at once arose. 

The theatre opened in April 1794, with an oratorio 
as a benison on the new building, and then started to 

198 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

elevate the public mind by producing tragedy after 
tragedy. The degraded people, however, would have 
preferred to laugh, and came in no great numbers to 
weep, yet Kemble held on his course, and when Mrs. 
Siddons withdrew in the middle of June, Drury Lane 
became moribund. Kemble tried to temporize, put- 
ting on farces which pleased no one, says Boaden, 
though if Dorothy had only played in them they would 
have brought money to the theatre. Once only did 
she act, and that was on July 2, when she gave her 
performance in The Country Girl for the benefit of. the 
widows and children of those who perished in Lord 
Howe's victory on " the glorious first of June." 

It was not until November 4, 1794, that Dorothy 
again took a part on the Drury Lane boards, and then 
as Lady Content in The Wedding Day, written by 
Mrs. Inchbald especially for her, and of which per- 
formance Genest said she "was the great support of 
it all." This play gave her one of the songs that 
became associated with her name, and which she may 
have written, " In the Dead of Night," a line of which 
ran, " Cupid knocked at my window disturbing my 
rest." This caught on with the public, and so, says 
an anonymous writer, in every mouth was heard " like 
the natural notes of some sweet melody which drops 
from it whether it will or no, nothing but Cupid ! 
Cupid ! The whole city, like the heart of one man, 
opened itself to love." 

The great theatrical event of the autumn was the 
presentation of Nobody, a two act comedy by Mrs. 
Robinson, whom we know as " Perdita," who had for 
years devoted herself to literature. She had had the 
temerity to ridicule in this play the outstanding vice 
of the day among women, that of gambling, and under 

Domesticity and Work 199 

the title of the Lady Greeks she scattered satire upon 
those who allowed " speculators in ruin " to open a 
bank at their evening parties and share the profits. 
The cast included Mrs. Jordan, Mrs. Goodall, Mrs. 
Pope and Bannister; Miss Farren should have been 
in it, but gave up her part because she said one of her 
most intimate friends was attacked in the play. 
Another actress of outstanding fame probably 
Dorothy was said by Mrs. Robinson to have received 
a letter anouncing that 

"Nobody should be damned." 

Mrs. Robinson herself received threats, neverthe- 
less the rehearsals continued, and the night of the 
performance found the players in a more than usually 
nervous state. As soon as the curtain drew up some 
men in the gallery, whose liveries betrayed their em- 
ployers, declared they were sent there to " do up " 
Nobody, and a scene of confusion ensued, even women 
of distinguished rank hissing through their fans. Ban- 
nister and Mrs. Jordan did their utmost to procure a 
fair hearing, and the more rational part of the audience 
were inclined to see it through; but effort was use- 
less, and after the third stormy night the play was 

Boaden, who displays no knowledge of the hidden 
machinery of this disturbance, says that Dorothy was 
very nervous, and hints that it was caused by the fact 
that Mrs. Robinson was a writer as well as an actress 
and would visit the failure upon anything rather than 
the piece. Knowing to what a brutal length theatre 
brawls could go, Dorothy might well have expected 
dreadful things to happen when the curtain drew up 
that night. 

From then until February, when Alexander the 

200 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Great, a pantomime ballet, was put on, Mrs. Jordan 
acted constantly. After that her next appearance 
was in April, when, "with characteristic kindness," 
she played for Bannister's benefit, he, like a good 
comrade, performing for her in May. During the 
latter month a play by Cumberland named First Love, 
with " neither plot nor incident nor wit to recommend 
it," said Bannister, enjoyed a short run because of the 
acting of Dorothy and Miss Farren. One scene 
between these two was so affecting that the author 
remarked : " When two such exquisite actresses con- 
spired to support me, I will not be so vain as to pre- 
sume I could have stood without their help." On 
May 4 Dorothy took the part for the only time in her 
life of the Old Maid in a play of that name, and 
thenceforward continued her exertions until the end 
of the season. On August 19 " Nell of Clarence plays 
Ophelia at Richmond," said Walpole, writing to Miss 
Berry, and a week later in the same correspondence 
occurs : " It was printed at the bottom of the play-bills 
at Richmond last week that Mrs. Jordan would not 
perform, as it was the birthday of his R.H. the Duke 
of Clarence no, to be sure she could not, for the 
Prince of Orange * was to dine with him, and she did 
the honours at the head of the table ; no, the Princesses 
were not there." 

Dorothy had for July an offer so splendid that she 
might well have been forgiven had she accepted it, 
but it was from Daly, and her hatred of him was too 
extreme for her to be beguiled, even though he was 
ready to give her a hundred guineas a night, and to 

1 The Prince and Princess of Orange were living at Hampton Court 
Palace at the time. 

Domesticity and Work 201 

deposit the total sum in the bank for her before she 
left England. Hints as to this crept into the papers 
to be asserted, commented upon, and contradicted. 
" Surely there can be no ground for the general com- 
plaint of scarcity both of money and all other neces- 
sities when the public on one hand can afford to pay, 
and an actress on the other afford to decline a hundred 
guineas per night for a few hours' exertion." 

It would have been worth as much as Daly offered 
if Dorothy would have acted for him again, for his 
fortunes were on the wane. He had suffered much 
from the competition of Astley at the Amphitheatre, 
who encroached largely in his shows upon what were 
regarded as the sole rights of the patent houses, and 
who, having secured a patent in Dublin for a circus, 
went on to present musical farce. Daly commenced 
action after action against him, and was eventually 
ruined, partly because personal character entered 
largely into the affair. He had won a reputation so 
atrocious in many ways that he was generally 
execrated, while Astley was generous, respected and 
known to most people of influence as a teacher of 
riding and driving. Now that Mrs. Jordan was famous 
Daly's vile behaviour to her was public property, and 
rose ever in his path ; so that he felt that the one thing 
to do was to get her to play for him at any cost. But 
no lure was strong enough to draw her there while he 
was in power, and he had to continue on his downward 
road, being swept away at last by a society of gentle- 
men players, who, headed by Lord Henry Fitzgerald, 
built a small theatre in Shaw's Court in opposition 
to him. 

It is said that Dorothy refused even to see him or 

202 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

to allow him to see his daughter when, in his visits to 
London, he approached her. Nothing could ever 
make her forget the injury he had done her. 

That autumn Dorothy acted with Kemble in The 
Plain Dealer > one of Wycherley's plays. It was a very 
rare thing indeed for these two to act together, and 
perhaps had Kemble tried the experiment oftener, 
there would have been less friction between them, 
for Boaden, who was very friendly with Kemble, tells 
how irresistible the latter found Dorothy and the 
melody of her voice, adding, " He used the language 
of Yorick when he was no jester : ' It may seem 
ridiculous enough to a torpid heart I could have 
taken her in my arms and cherished her, though it was 
in the open street, without blushing.' ' 

There was a family reason for the rest Dorothy took 
in the spring of this year, a reason which The Bon Ton 
Magazine foretold some months before, announcing : 
" Mrs. Jordan is shortly expecting to produce some- 
thing, whether a young Admiral or a Pickle Duchess 
it is impossible yet to tell." This prophecy was ful- 
filled when, on March 27, 1795, a boy appeared, "to 
the great satisfaction of his royal highness." 

The author of The Great Illegitimates gives a story 
of Dorothy as a truly domestic and unostentatious 
mother, which is somewhat amusing and which removes 
her far from the "fine" lady. He says that "we" 
have often seen her arrival " in a plain yellow chariot 
at Miss Turing's, a milliner in St. James's Street, 
where she would alight with an infant in her arms, and 
during her stay frequently change the linen of the 
little one in the shop, while freely conversing with the 
person in attendance." 

Domesticity and Work 203 

There seems reason to believe that matters were 
somewhat strained between the Duke and Dorothy at 
the end of 1795, as hints were given in the papers con- 
cerning his flirtations; Mrs. J 11 being one lady 

who had completely " brought to " a celebrated naval 
commander. The Bon Ton declared in February 
1796 that a separation was immediately expected to 
take place, adding, that the benevolence of the lady's 
heart and the generosity of her disposition had left 
her scarcely any property " but what she derived from 
the exercise of her exquisite talent." And the notice 
ended with the suggestion that a Mrs. J - C 
was her successful rival. However, this little flame 
seems to have puffed out before it was well alight, for 
there is no further evidence of its existence. 

On December 10, when Dorothy should have been 
acting the part of Julia in The Surrender of Calais, she 
was suddenly taken ill ; but she was at work agaih 
before the month was finished. Nature was making 
too great a demand upon her; had she been able to 
take life easily and to do no fatiguing work things 
might have gone well; as it was, she had further 
attacks of illness, and in February 1796 suffered from 
another miscarriage. A third letter from the Duke 
to Admiral Christian, written from Clarence Lodge, 
which he still kept up, refers to this illness : " Dear 
Christian, I have hitherto been prevented answering 
you by attending Mrs. Jordan, who has been very ill 
indeed." What a picture of domesticity these two 
lines raise ! 



"And she is Nature's own. I found her such, 
Nor marred the copy by a single touch ; 
The finished work such high perfection bore, 
Art could add nothing; Nature give no more." 

The Comic Muse, on Mrs. Jordan. 

IF the thoughts of the Duke were wandering to other 
fair ladies at the end of 1795, usage had made certain 
habits so strong that they could not be broken through. 
Dorothy would drive down to St. James's to breakfast 
with Clarence (she generally did so, says The Fashion- 
able Cypriad), perhaps entering through that side door 
which he had been so thoughtful as to have made as 
soon as the rooms were allotted to him, though there 
could be nothing surreptitious in her visits, as her 
carriage would be there for all to see. 

It was in this dining-room that, on November 17, 
1795, he and she awaited the appearance of Samuel 
Ireland, who himself believed, and for a time made 
half the London world believe, that his son, William 
Henry, then a lad of eighteen, had discovered a 
number of Shakespeare documents in an old trunk. 
Through that year all the learned men were engaged 
in a dispute over these plays and deeds, but so strong 
and influential was the party which looked upon the 
parchments as genuine that Sheridan accepted the 
tragedy of Vortigern and Rowena by William Shake- 
speare but in reality by William Henry Ireland for 
production at Drury Lane. 


From Petersham to Bushy Park 205 

The play being accepted, there arose the question 
of actors, and it was probably this which roused 
Dorothy and the Duke to keen interest. Neither 
could be regarded as a judge of ancient literature, but 
the fact that many literary people Boswell, uttering 
a } Nunc Dimittis, had gone on his knees to kiss the 
manuscript had signed a paper testifying to their 
belief in its authenticity was enough, naturally, to give 
them a bias. So they determined to see the play for 
themselves, and appointed a time for the Irelands to 
bring it to the palace. In his Confessions published 
in 1805 young Ireland declared that the Prince and 
Mrs. Jordan most carefully examined all the docu- 
ments shown them, and asked many questions, which 
seem to have been asked by most people, for he goes 
on to say that he gave the usual answers. The Prince, 
he adds, made numerous objections, particularly to the 
redundancy of letters in the spelling apparent through- 
out the papers ; but whatever doubts Clarence had were 
set at rest, for Dorothy was duly cast for a part in 

Kemble at first believed in the play, then doubted, 
and delayed its appearance until he was by pressure 
obliged to produce it, and, being obliged, he calmly 
set apart April i, 1796, for its production. To this 
Ireland naturally objected, whereupon the 2nd of the 
month was appointed, Kemble securing his gibe by 
following it with a farce entitled My Grandmother. 

Dorothy acted her part of Flavia with " exquisite 
simplicity," says Boaden. She had accepted the char- 
acter, and therefore felt it incumbent upon her to make 
the most of it. Not so other actors ; Mrs. Siddons and 
Mrs. Palmer resigned their parts on the plea of ill- 

206 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

health, and some of the men, knowing that Kemble 
was performing against his will, acted up to the 
manager's opinion rather than to the possibilities of 
the play. 

The audience had heard all sides, and knew 
Kemble's standpoint; it was, therefore, frankly and 
good-humouredly critical, and roared with laughter 
when the actor announced 

"And when thy solemn mockery is o'er, 
With icy hand thou takst him by the feet 
And upwards so, till thou dost reach the heart, 
And wrap him in the cloak of lasting night." 

The play being announced for reappearance, an 
outburst of howls condemned the proposal. 

Ireland declared later that he had written every part 
in the play for a particular actor, and that he had pur- 
posely assigned to Mirs. Jordan a Character which 
needed small-clothes, and had introduced a song in 
which she might touch the audience with her pathetic 
rendering. He and his father were ruined, ,102 13^.3^. 
being their share of the night's receipts; and that was 
all they got according to the writer in The Dictionary 
of National Biography, though Boaden affirms that 
,300 had previously been paid them. Samuel Ireland 
had believed implicitly in all that his son had told him, 
but every one treated him as guilty, and he died four 
years later, asserting that " he was totally ignorant of 
the deceit." Young Ireland fled from his father's 
house, and for years became more or less of an outcast. 
In the book he published later he paid strong tribute 
to Dorothy's particular kindness and affability when 
he went to see her and in the Green Room where he 
remained through the night of the representation, 
" when not only her transcendent abilities as an actress 

From Petersham to Bushy Park 207 

were exerted in my behalf before the curtain, but 
reanimating expressions while in the Green Room con- 
tinually flowed from her lips, in order to rouse me from 
the mental depression under which I so obviously 

Kemble did not grieve over the failure of this play, 
and his attitude proved him a man before he was an 
actor, being better pleased to say " I told you so " than 
to try for success. The management were inclined to 
blame his acting for the extent of the fiasco, and there 
was a general sense of friction, ready to blaze forth on 
the least occasion. The occasion was not long in 
coming, for Dorothy chose Hamlet for her benefit 
night. Why she did this it is impossible to say, as 
Kemble had already advertised it for his own benefit. 
It may have been pure cussedness in retaliation for his 
acting in Vortigern, or she may have wished to try 
conclusions with him; in any case her choice led to 
high and violent disputes, and the matter was at last 
offered to the arbitration of Sheridan, who gave the 
wise judgment that neither should take Hamlet as a 
benefit play, which so annoyed Kemble that he 
threatened to resign. Boaden carefully gives no hint 
of this affair either in his Life of Kemble or that of 
Mrs. Jordan. Kemble's annoyance was loudly uttered 
and widely criticized, one letter among the many which 
appeared in the press containing the following 

" Kemble can never stand in the first rank of favour- 
ites till he evinces greater abilities and less self- 
conceit. Before that period arrives he will constantly 
meet with mortifications whenever he contends with 
a performer of Mrs. Jordan's merits, who is singularly 

2o8 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

capable of supporting the interests of the theatre, as 
he has himself most injudiciously proved by placing 
her perpetually in situations where all around her were 
drawbacks instead of assistants. If any dispute 
between actors be brought before the public, their 
motto must, of course, be Spectemur agenda Let our 
performances be the test and upon this ground the 
question has long been completely divided between 
the contending parties. ... I cannot quit this subject 
without remarking that I have scarcely ever observed 
a more glaring instance of clumsy misrepresentation 
than in the statement made of the loss likely to be 
sustained by the lovers of the drama in consequence, 
forsooth, of this fracas. A long list of performers is 
pompously held forth as following Mr. Kemble upon 
this his threatened secession; whereas, most unfor- 
tunately, not only all those who frequent the theatre, 
but all who cast their eye upon a newspaper, have 
repeatedly been informed that every individual of that 
list has, for some time past, resolved upon quitting the 
stage at the conclusion of the present season, and that, 
too, before Hamlet (which, it seems, was the bone of 
contention) was even put into rehearsal. 

"Miso PUFF." 

Dorothy chose the part of Juliet for her benefit on 
April 25, to which character she scarcely did justice; 
for, as with Imogen, she did not possess the right 
qualities to interpret it well. The benefit system must 
have been somewhat of a charge upon a noted and 
good-humoured performer, who was far more likely to 
be solicited to play than one of more austere mood, 
such as Mrs. Siddons. There was ever some reason 

From Petersham to Bushy Park 209 

for Dorothy to give her work with only sweet words 
for payment, and if she now and then repented and let 
another slip into her place, her taskmaster, the public, 
was always ready with flagellation. 

Thus, in this year of 1 796, after her own benefit, she 
had to repay the favours received in a way that no less 
popular person would have been required to do. At 
Mrs. Pope's benefit, May 5, she played Lucy in The 
Virgin Unmasked; for Barrymore, on the 2Oth, she 
took Juliet for the third time; for Bannister the next 
night she was Nell in The Devil to Pay ; then came a 
charity performance at Covent Garden, and another at 
Drury Lane, on June 9, for the widows and orphans 
of Benson, who had acted with her in Vortigern. 
Benson had thrown himself down from the top of his 
house in a delirium, which was caused, it was reported, 
by the fact that the scornful shouts of the audience 
over that play rang constantly in his ears. 

For some reason Dorothy resigned her part at the 
Covent Garden benefit and drew the usual public 
rebukes. " How is it that Mrs. Jordan was absent on 
an occasion of charity? " " If Mrs. Jordan refused to 
play she was wrong ! " " There is too much fuss over 
the little Sultana," etc. Truly the public was a hard 

For the last time she took the part of Priscilla Tom- 
boy in The Romp on May 6 of this year, for she was 
now nearly thirty-five, and began to feel disinclined 
for the breeches parts in which she was so popular. 

Kemble's position had not improved as a manager. 
Not only the performers but the weekly workmen were 
often unpaid; duns were always about the doors, and 
almost nightly he received notes, such as "Mrs. 

210 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

So-and-So will not go on the stage to-night unless all 
arrears are remitted " ; or " Messrs. This-and-That will 
not supply the stage furniture unless the previous bill 
is paid." To one who was straightforward and scrupu- 
lous in his dealings this was a refinement of torture, 
which culminated when he was actually arrested for 
some theatrical debt. He paid the money and resigned 
his post. This resignation has been attributed by 
some biographers to the quarrel over Hamlet with 
Dorothy, but his relation with her formed but one of 
a long list of grievances which made things unen- 

Dorothy, it is said, nearly always got her money, 
for she had " a very powerful friend who would not 
allow her to be trifled with," especially on such an 
important matter as money, might have been added. 
Boaden said that this " friend " had secured a " steady 
aversion which, in a certain quarter [Kemble], was 
always manifested at the very sound of his name." 
However, if in London she had to be always on the 
defensive, in little Richmond she queened it over 
every one. She played what she liked, and occasion- 
ally indulged herself in those sentimental parts which 
were not so popular in town, drawing from one critic 
the remark that he would hint to her that she could 
not be Mrs. Siddons, Miss Farren and Mrs. Jordan 
at one and the same time. When she played there 
in September the ever-ready reformer rebuked her in 
The Monthly Mirror 

" There is a custom at this theatre which cannot be 
too much reprobated, and which is that of assigning the 
whole of the Green Room to Mrs. Jordan during her 
engagement, for the purpose of dressing ; so that while 
one actress is occupying a large apartment, which 

From Petersham to Bushy Park 2 1 1 

ought to be devoted to general use, twenty or thirty 
performers are under the necessity of standing by the 
sides and back scenes for several hours together among 
lamp-lighters and scene-shifters, because Mrs. Jordan 
is too great to intermingle with the rest of the com- 
pany." In this case sympathy must be with the other 
performers, though they had, as alternative to the 
sides, various dressing-rooms in which to wait. 

Dorothy's desire to play sentimental parts was 
further gratified when Miss Farren left the stage, 
which she did in the midst of an uproar in 1797. One 
night the audience was kept waiting three hours for 
her to appear, and were then told that she was too ill 
the management having spent its time in futile per- 
suasions. It owed her a tremendous sum, and nothing 
but an unattainable golden salve would have cured 
her illness. Having presumably made her terms, she 
appeared again four nights later, to meet a house which 
was gathered for the sole purpose of hissing and raging 
at her, and she left the theatre rather than apologize 
for a fault which she considered not to be hers. This 
was the easier in that she no longer needed the favour 
of the public, for the Countess of Derby died on 
March 14, and on May i Miss Farren married the 
delighted Earl, who had long paid his suit to her. 
With the loss of Miss Farren and the Kembles, and 
with Wroughton as manager, Dorothy was practically 
supreme at Drury Lane. 

In 1797 the Duke of Clarence made a change of 
residence, and one which was decidedly for the better. 
Petersham Lodge was not a large house, though it was 
built on a stately plan round three sides of a grassy 
court on the edge of Richmond Park. This, probably 
wanting money, he had sold in 1794, though he still 

212 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

continued to live there. 1 But when old Lady North 
died in the early part of 1797, Clarence was made 
Ranger of Bushy Park in her stead, and in conse- 
quence of his position as Chief Steward of the 
Honour of Hampton. Thus Bushy House became 
his residence. 

Bushy House, surrounded by lovely gardens and 
inset in the park of that name, was built in the reign 
of William III, of red brick and was somewhat 
curious in form ; for on either side of the great square 
of the main building are lower wings, possessing 
rounded ends and extending both ways, forming the 
whole as the letter H. In the end of one wing looking 
west was the ballroom, its companion wing on the 
same side holding the chapel, for William of Clarence 
was devout in the blind fashion which considered that 
religion had little to do with ethics, and he appointed 
several chaplains for his service. The drawing-room 
its moulded ceiling upheld by pillars and the other 
sitting-rooms in which Dorothy lived for fourteen 
years, are now filled with the delicate machinery of the 
National Physical Laboratory, in connection with which 
many buildings have risen in one corner of the garden; 
yet the house itself has suffered little change, and much 
of the garden remains as it was a hundred years ago, 
still containing the temple, or pillared summer-house 
which was erected in honour of Lord Nelson. 

For Dorothy this sylvan spot must have been a great 
contrast to her Drury Lane existence, and she soon 
grew to love it. Here most of her children were born, 
and here they grew up and dwelt long after she had 
gone out of their lives. In 1798 the number of her 

1 Petersham Lodge was pulled down in 1834 and the grounds included 
in the park. The present Petersham Lodge is the third of that name. 

From Petersham to Bushy Park 213 

children were seven, three of them Fitzclarences. 
About the date of the birth of the first Fitzclarence 
girl, Sophia, there is, as has already been said, some 
doubt; it may have been in 1797, but if so, she " came 
out " at the early age of fourteen. On the other hand, 
a member of the family asserts that Sophia was the 
eldest Fitzclarence child, in which case she must have 
been born in 1792, when Dorothy was said to have 
suffered such a serious miscarriage, and the birth must 
have been concealed from the public because of 
the recent sensation concerning the Clarence-Jordan 
alliance. The way in which this event was announced 
in The Gentleman's Magazine " a five months' child, 
which died immediately " almost raises suspicion that 
this was so. But nineteen was considered at that date 
as very late for presentation in Society. However, 
succeeding years were apportioned to births or mis- 
carriages, January 1794 and March 1795 to the former, 
and March 1793 to the latter. 

With her generous nature, Dorothy made warm 
friends both among her dependents and outside her 
home; nothing testifies so much to this as the letters 
which she wrote at this time, many of which are still in 
existence. They were often undated, but from internal 
evidence and the watermarks it has, however, been easy 
to assign them to their right period. The following, 
perhaps to Miss Turner, was written soon after the 
settling in Bushy House in 1797, and betrays in- 
teresting facts about the family. 

"July 9th, Bushy House. 

" I will not, my dear friend, set about accounting for 
my apparent neglect of you your own kind heart will 
find excuse for me, and will, I am sure, do me the 

214 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

justice to feel it did not arise from any want of affec- 
tion ungrateful indeed must I be to forget all your 
kind affections believe me, I miss them on all occa- 
sions. I am now settled here for some time but not 
paid. Fanny [Frances Daly, then fifteen years of 
age] has taken up her residence at Elliott's, Dora and 
Lucy I have got comfortably lodged and boarded 
within a quarter of a mile of me my sister is with me. 
I had come to the resolution of parting with her, but 
she shew'd so much contrition and sorrow at the idea 
that I shall try her once again; the dear little ones 
are all quite well, but, unfortunately, the smallpox 
surrounds us. God preserve them. I am sure that 
you will be glad to hear that the Duke gain'd a great 
triumph in the House of Lords. Mrs. Lloyd was very 
anxious to have the use of my house again [probably 
in Somerset Street], but I positively refus'd her. I 
expect Mrs. Sinclair, however, in a day or two. I saw 
her last Friday, when she requested me to remember 
her affectionately to you ; so write, and do not treat me 
as I deserve. God bless you, my dear girl, and tell me 
when it is likely that I shall see you; you will not 
surely return without letting me hear from you. I am 
in your debt, but that I can pay ; but how shall I make 
a return for all your goodness and the many happy 
moments you have afforded me let me see you again, 
and I think I shall prove better how to value you. 
Once More God Bless You. 

" Yours ever affectionately and sincerely, 


The name of the unsatisfactory sister not being 
given, it is not possible to say whether this was Hester 
or the younger one; the Mrs. Lloyd mentioned was the 

From Petersham to Bushy Park 215 

wife of the Rev. Mr. Lloyd of Ewell, chaplain to the 
Duke, who would come over, bringing his surplice with 
him, when he thought it right to conduct a service in 
the ducal establishment. A little later, for a con- 
sideration of 400 a year, paid by Dorothy, he 
undertook to board, lodge and teach Dorothy's eldest 
children, as well as the young sister. As Hester was 
thirty-nine at the time, no stretch of imagination could 
turn her into a young thing needing education, and it 
may even be doubted whether this girl was a sister at 
all, for the youngest sister Dorothy could have had 
would have been twenty-five. May she not have been 
the elusive Hester, who exists rather by hints than 
facts Dorothy's own child by an untraced man 
named Bettesworth, born before the Ford connection? 
It is noteworthy that at this time Dorothy was short 
of money and "had not been paid" by whom? the 
theatrical people or the Duke ? There is also another 
point in this letter which is quite remarkable. She 
mentions a Mrs. Sinclair as being expected on a visit 
to Bushy House. Now this lady, the wife of Robert 
Sinclair, Laird of Fiswick, was Dorothy's aunt, her 
father's own sister, and daughter of the stern Judge 
Bland. Thus it is proved that she was accepted 
socially by another legitimate member of the Bland 
family, in addition to John Bland of Edinburgh 
and Nathaniel Bland, her father's brother in London. 
Mrs. Sinclair was a lady of social importance, and the 
Duke of Clarence wrote to her concerning one of her 
visits to Bushy as follows * 

1 To General Thomas Bland Strange, R.A., a descendant of Mrs. 
Sinclair's sister, Lucy Bland (Mrs. Orpen), I am indebted for kind 
permission to reproduce this letter. 

216 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

"Bushy, Monday night. 


'This evening I received the enclosed letter 
from Lord Harcourt, by which you will perceive at 
length it is settled that Strange is to be considered 
as entitled free of all expense. 1 Keep the letter to 
prevent future disputes. 

' The country is beautiful, and as Mrs. Jordan's 
carriage returns from London on Thursday, you will 
perhaps come in it, and enjoy the fresh eggs, butter 
and cream. Remember we dine at five, and ever 
believe me, 

'' Yours sincerely, 


Another letter of Dorothy's, written two years later 
to Miss Turner, who had probably held the position 
of governess in the family, may be reproduced here, as 
it deals with domestic events, and again shows the 
pressing want of money. 

" Why will you, my dear girl, make yourself uneasy 
about me. Believe, I am very well; however, I 
think a little bark may strengthen me. I am sincerely 
sorry that you are going to leave us, but won't blame 
your friends for their anxiety to see you. Let me 
know when we may expect to see you again. Let me 
request you will not stay long away; believe me, you 
have not, among the people who love and who must 
love you, one who more truly values your friendship 
than I do. My poor little girls will miss your society 
greatly. You give me great pleasure in saying that 

1 An allusion to the fact that her nephew, Alexander Strange, grand- 
son of Judge Bland, was made a Knight of Windsor for distinguished 
military services. 

From Petersham to Bushy Park 217 

you think Mrs. Betty will answer; God grant she 
may. And now, my dear girl, the money I owe 
you is among the least of the kindnesses I have 
received from you, and it is the only one of the many 
I can make a return for. Let me know how much it 
is, and I will so far gratify your good heart as to let 
you have it as I can spare it. The dear little ones are 
all well. God bless you, and may you be as happy 
as you deserve and as I shall now wish you. 

" Your affectionate friend, 


' The Duke desires to be remembered affectionately 
to you." 

To this may be added a third letter, written in 1800, 
and probably also to Miss Turner. In this Dorothy 
mentions buying a house, but which house this was it 
has not been possible to trace. 

"... Your kind remembrances, my dear friend, 
and gentle rebukes sensibly affect me; believe me, no 
length of time or space can ever lessen the love I have 
for you. You know my dislike to writing, which has 
been greatly strengthened by seldom having anything 
pleasant to communicate. I hate talking of myself. 
I hear of you, tho' not from you, which I own I have 
no right to complain of; do not, I entreat you, punish 
me too severely by not keeping your promise of coming 
to us. The house will be ready to receive you the end 
of September; I should be afraid of your going into [it] 
before. Can your dear and good friends part with 
you? I admit their superior claims to your company. 
... I trust the girls will be comfortably settled. 
.Mrs, Elliot has got them a very superior governess, 

218 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

who will, I hope, make the house very agreeable to 
you all. I shall be with you some part of every day 
too vain I am to hold this out to you as an inducement 
to fulfil your promise. George sends his love to dear 
Dott ; so far from having forgot you, believe me, you are 
a very constant theme. I am sure you will be glad to 
hear that dear Mrs. Elliot has got a little girl. The 
dear children are all in high health, and really I think 
Frederick the finest and handsomest boy I ever saw, 
but he has not a tooth yet, which makes me rather 
uneasy. I have been playing . . . and fagging myself 
to death, but it has enabled me to pay a good part of 
the purchase money of my house. The dear good 
Duke desires me to say that he shall be the first to 
welcome you. God bless you, dear. I rejoice to hear 
that your health is so much improved; may you enjoy 
that and every other blessing is the sincere prayer of 
your affectionate friend, 


It was about the year 1797 that Dorothy exerted 
herself to gain the friendship of a man who might be 
useful to her. She was so often vilified by the press 
that it is not to be wondered at that she looked round 
for a friend in its ranks who would now and then do 
her a good turn. She had seen James Boaden in the 
company of Kemble and Sheridan, and as he was the 
editor of The Oracle, also a playwright and a critic, 
she secured an introduction to him (or, as he himself 
says, introduced herself to him), and afterwards occa- 
sionally wrote to ask his advice upon some theatrical 

Boaden dearly loved high rank, and the favour of 
a prince was sufficient to give him exquisite happiness, 

From Petersham to Bushy Park 219 

so thenceforth all things that Dorothy asked of him 
were granted, in so far as was possible. He may have 
known more of the joint life at Bushy Park than he 
revealed ; indeed he must have known more, for things 
which were not included in his book were often public 
property at the time of their happening, and when he 
was in Dorothy's confidence. In writing his Life 
of her, too, he started by making great promises of 
settling all mysteries, yet he ended having probably 
been cajoled by William IV by telling nothing, his 
chief new contribution being a number of letters written 
to him by Mrs. Jordan. As The Dramatic Magazine 
said of his book, " it might with equal propriety have 
been termed a History of England or a Life of George 
III," so diffuse was he. 

He does, however, give some interesting pictures of 
Dorothy, such as the following, which belongs to 1798. 
She had sent for him to Somerset Street to talk over a 
new play The Secret by Morris, which was filled 
with improper situations, such being, as Dorothy 
pointed out, " quite usual on the stage, whatever the 
world might think of it." His advice was against it, 
and she told him that the Duke, who had read it, had 
uttered the same verdict. Boaden adds 

" She was in charming spirits, and occasionally ran 
over the strings of her guitar. Her young family 
were playing about us, and the present Colonel George 
Fitzclarence, then a child between four and five years 
old, amused me much with his spirit and strength; he 
attacked me as, his mother told me, his fine-tempered 
father was. accustomed to permit him to do. He cer- 
tainly was an infant Hercules." From this it may be 
gathered that Dorothy sometimes took her children to 
town with her when making a stay there. 

220 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

There was one event which happened just now which 
caused Dorothy much pain ; a small thing, but remem- 
bered to the end of her life. Charles Macklin, " the 
father of the Stage," died in 1797 at the age of ninety- 
seven, and two years later his Life was published. 
In this was detailed a promise made and broken by 
Mrs. Jordan. The old man's last years had been 
rendered comfortable by the sale of a subscribed 
edition of his works in 1791, at which time Dorothy 
had written him as follows 

" I have done myself the pleasure of subscribing to 
your works ten pounds, and request you will accept the 
same from me, every year, in remembrance and respect 
of your superior abilities." 

After this, however, she had found a more insistently 
needy friend in the Duke of Clarence, and was unable 
to continue the ten pounds a year promised, which 
made Macklin very angry; he wrote for the money, 
and she, shrinking from a definite refusal, did not 
answer. So in his Life appeared the following 
criticism : " She " (Mrs. Jordan) " had received all the 
merit and praise due to her for her promised liberality, 
because her letter addressed to Mr. Macklin was en- 
closed under cover to Mr. John Bell, bookseller, 
Strand ; was handed about in his shop as a testimony 
of her generosity, and announced publicly in the news- 
papers; but, lest the world should be misled, we can 
assure the public that Mr. Macklin never received one 
single shilling from Mrs. Jordan subsequent to her first 
subscription. The sum of the transaction is this : Mrs. 
Jordan had all the merit of the bounty; Mr. Macklin 
had not the benefit of it." 

From Petersham to Bushy Park 221 

Would Macklin's vexed spirit have been soothed 
had it known how deeply Dorothy felt this reproach, 
and what an impression his hardness made upon her 
mind ? In one of her conversations with Miss Williams 
at St. Cloud in 1816 she referred to the Macklin 

" I must repeat, Miss Williams, that it never came 
within my knowledge to observe cruelty a predominant 
passion in a performer; the only instance I remember 
upon record of malice being carried to a pitch of 
revenge was exemplified in the conduct of Mr. Macklin, 
who certainly seemed to possess the germs of vin- 
dictiveness in his composition." She continued, re- 
ferring to the Kembles, but not by name : " As for 
jealousy and ill-nature, I had an awful share to 
encounter in the progress of my public life, and from 
quarters pursuing a different walk, consequently the 
last who ought to have manifested their spleen towards 
me. For a considerable time I met those shafts with 
good nature, but, finding such conduct increase rather 
than otherwise, I banished my smiles and had recourse 
to reserve, until, the attacks becoming too frequent and 
pointed for further endurance, I was compelled to 
make my grievances known in another channel " (Sheri- 
dan), " where immediate redress was accorded me." 

Dorothy worked very hard this year, and appeared 
in several new pieces, one being The Will, by 
Frederick Reynolds, another Cumberland's The Last 
of the Family, in which Dorothy took the part of the 
heroine. In June she closed the Covent Garden 
season by acting Peggy and Nell for a benefit, and at 
Drury Lane she did The Country Girl for the widows 
and orphans made by the battle off Cape St. Vincent. 
Later, a benefit was given for the sufferers in Lord 

222 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Duncan's action off the coast of Holland, when 
Dorothy Jordan acted in The Will and The Prize. 
" In short," says Boaden, " she was a full and perfect 
contrast to those whose services were always to be paid, 
though exerted even for a relation." By which last 
sentence Boaden meant Mrs. Siddons, who, whether 
she deserved it or not, had gained the reputation of 
never playing except for money. 

That summer Mrs. Jordan acted both at Richmond 
and Margate. At the latter place she found the 
bracing air very good after the closeness of London 
and the relaxing effect of the Thames Valley, and from 
this time she often not only refreshed her body but 
replenished her purse in the small but fashionable 
Thanet resort. 

Once while on the Margate stage she had to act with 
a hitherto unknown Irishman, and at the point where 
he had to kiss her in the play she turned her head so 
as to present little more than her ear. 

" Och, by Jasus," said he, " I'll be d d if I kiss 

you at all, at all ; if you won't let me play my part as 
a man should, you may do it all yourself." And he 
very deliberately walked off the stage, to the loud and 
delighted laughter of the audience. 

Among her plays that autumn was The Castle 
Spectre, by " Monk " Lewis, which was very short but 
regarded as astonishingly beautiful, its chief attraction 
being a glorified ghost scene in which the spirit of 
Angela's mother comes from an oratory, which is sud- 
denly and miraculously illuminated, to bless her 
orphan child. This made the little play so popular 
that it was acted nearly fifty times during the season. 

This character of Angela explains an allusion in a 
hurried letter Dorothy wrote to Lewis, asking that she 

From Petersham to Bushy Park 223 

might bring a new comedy of his before the public. 
The letter is undated, but as the comedy was brought 
out in 1 799 it must have been written about this time. 


" Before I had the pleasure of seeing you last 
I had determined to write to you to request that you 
would have the goodness to enable me to have the 
happiness of presenting the public the Comedy of the 
East Indian, as any production of yours would prove 
of the utmost consequence. I cannot describe to you 
how disappointed I should be, independent of the great 
loss of so great an attraction. I will put off my night 
till after Bannister's; don't let poor Angela plead in 
vain. I will have the copy returned to me after the 
play ; of the success I have not a doubt. Once more 
let me entreat. 

' Yours ever obliged, 


From January 16 to March 14, 1798, Dorothy acted 
every theatrical night, and then, an opera being 
put on, she had some rest. In May she was in 
O'Keefe's She's Eloped, in which she " laboured hard 
for the author, but the task was hopeless from the first 
act." Of this failure O'Keefe wrote 

" For ' She's Eloped ' her gentle heart much grieved, 
That jilt, called Fortune, ceased to use me well, 
My comic efforts were but ill received, 
With Dora tho' she came, frowns greet my Arabel." 

In June, to mention benefit nights only, she gave her 
services for the General Lying-in Hospital; her 
Beatrice in The Panel drew crowds to Miss De Camp's 
evening, and in September she acted in The Stranger 

224 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

for the benefit of John Palmer's children; he, poor 
man, having fallen dead on the stage in the May of 
that year, it was said, through grief at the loss of his 
wife and a favourite child. This summer she acted at 
Richmond, but nowhere else, for which abstinence 
there was sufficient family reason, in that on November 
1 8 her daughter Mary was born at Bushy House. 

This time she seems to have taken a long rest, for 
the next public mention of her is in March 1799; for 
her benefit in April she played in the East Indian the 
part she had been so anxious to secure from " Monk " 
Lewis. In May Mrs. Siddons, Kemble and Dorothy 
were rehearsing Pizarro, a tragedy by Kotzebue, whose 
Stranger had made him popular in England. Sheridan 
had spent months in altering the play, and so took a 
paternal interest in its representation, passing an even- 
ing of acute misery in his box on the opening night. 
He did not believe in Mrs. Jordan for tragedy, but had 
to give her the second woman's part that he might 
secure the attraction of her name, but he was certain 
that she would not come up to his ideal. Boaden says 
that he was in the utmost ill-humour, shocked, almost 
stamping with anger at everything Dorothy said, and 
declaring that she could not speak a line of it properly. 
But his chief terror was over Mrs. Siddons, who had 
not fallen in with his notion of the character, and he 
kept saying, " There, there, I told you, Richardson, 
that she would never fall into the character." With 
Kemble, however, he was transported, crying, " Beau- 
tiful ! sublime ! perfection ! " 

However, the players settled down to their parts, 
and the piece had a wonderful run ; as some one said, 
" Fortunately the health and strength of the performers 
lasted through thirty-one repetitions," Sheridan being 

From Petersham to Bushy Park 225 

the better by 15,000. These Kotzebue dramas were 
all built upon seduction and villainy, but their intense 
Teutonic sentimentalism made them very dear to the 
English heart. 

Through all this work Dorothy continued her mater- 
nal cares, her children coming quickly one after the 
other, and on December 9 she gave birth to the boy 
Frederick mentioned in a foregoing letter. There 
was, in fact, little truth in the compliment which The 
Comic Muse tried to pay the new Countess of Derby 
through Dorothy 

" Jordan be sure to do your house a grace 
Would cease her labours for the Brunswick race ; 
Proud for your brow the laurel wreath to twine, 
Lop off one hero from the royal line." 

It was just at this time that Kelly and Sheridan laid 
a bet as to whether the King could be induced to attend 
the Drury Lane Pantomime of Blue Beard, evidence 
of which is preserved in the British Museum on a scrap 
of paper bearing the following 

" Dec. 8, 99. Mr. Kelly Bets Mr. Sheridan a Rump 
and Dozen that the King comes to Drury Lane 
Theatre this season to the performance of Blue Beard. 

" At 40 Curzon Street." 

Pressure was probably put upon the King to extend 
his patronage once more to Drury Lane, though 
whether he saw Blue Beard must remain unknown. 
But if Kelly lost his bet the moral victory lay with him, 
for George IV commanded several performances in 
the spring of 1800, and he always had the good taste 

226 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

to choose plays in which Dorothy took part. On 
Thursday, March 20, she played before him as Lady 
Contest in The Wedding Day ; on Thursday, April 3, 
she was Miss Prue in Love for Love; and on May 15 
the commanded play was She Would and She Would 

This last was an evening long to be remembered. 
The King, Queen and no less than four princesses 
arrived in state, the younger people anxious again to 
see the woman who "appeared to have justified the 
attachment of one so dear to them, and to retain his 
respect as well as his affection." Scarcely, however, 
had they entered their boxes indeed before all were 
in, and while the King stood for a moment in the front 
looking upon the theatre, when a half-crazy man, 
named Hadfield, shot at him from the pit. The Queen 
pressed forward to know what was wrong, and was 
told it was only a squib. But she was too alert to be 
deceived, and asked her royal spouse if they should 

" Certainly ! the whole of the entertainment," was 
the kingly response. 

So these poor frightened ladies sat out a long per- 
formance, three of the princesses appropriately faint- 
ing according to the fashion of the times. All honour 
to the fourth, Elizabeth, who resisted the temptation 
to add to the confusion ! 

The audience enjoyed themselves by terrific excite r 
ment, demanding that the would-be assassin, who had 
been dragged neck and crop over the orchestra box 
into the nether regions, should be produced on the 
stage that they might be satisfied that he was properly 
bound. So Dorothy, with her pretty voice, came on to 
assure them that the miscreant was perfectly well 

From Petersham to Bushy Park 227 

secured and properly attended. Then, with the intro- 
duction of " God save the King," the play commenced. 
Every one was too agitated to act well, and the even- 
ing drew to an early close. It is said that the King 
recoiled when the pistol-shot sounded; then stepped 
boldly to the front of the box, put his opera-glass to 
his eyes and calmly looked round the house. That 
night the monarch had to spend a considerable time 
going from room to room to calm the weeping and 
fainting princesses, Amelia falling into one fit after 
another, until it was wondered whether she would 
recover at all. Some people are fearing to-day lest 
women should lose their womanliness that is to say, 
lest they should lose their sentimentality, their depend- 
ence, their sweet, clinging ways ; but how would those 
people like it if the dear things went back to the 
manners of a hundred years ago, fainting and shedding 
floods of tears whenever any untoward event occurred ? 

Boaden says that the shooting incident was bitter 
for the actors, as they could no longer hope for the 
King's presence in their house. 

Dorothy's first appearance this year, March 18, 
1800, was an ovation. She had made too long an 
absence, said The Monthly Mirror, and she was wel- 
comed " with a warmth which proved that she had not 
lost any portion of that popularity which her admirable 
comic talents had so deservedly gained her." 

For the first time she played Lady Teazle on May 
27, a part which was a favourite with her to the end of 
her life. It was this month that she introduced "a 
simple little ballad " into her part of Beatrice in The 
Panel, called " The Blue Bells of Scotland," and the 
following year this song was published as being com- 
posed and sung by her, which gave rise to a Notes and 

228 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Queries controversy in 1852, as well as a reputation to 
Dorothy in her own day of being a composer; a fact 
which shows how ready the world was to credit their 
Thalia with powers unusual to an actress. 1 She was 
known to write some of the songs she sang, and even 
published them at a profit, as one of her letters shows ; 
she was believed to be the author, or part-author, of 
at least two plays, The Spoiled Child and Anna, and 
now her admirers credited her with being a composer 
of music. 

1 The words of the song in question were of much earlier date ; the 
composer remains undiscovered. 



" Should British women from the contest swerve ? 
We'll form a female army of reserve 
And class them thus. Old maids are pioneers; 
Widows, sharpshooters; wives are fusileers; 
Maids are battalions that's all under twenty ; 
And as for light troops, we have them in plenty; 
Vixens the trumpet blow ; scolds beat the drum 
When thus prepared, what enemy will come ? " 

From The Soldier's Daughter, by CHERRY. 

" She was a constant wife, an affectionate mother and a sincere friend, 
ever solicitous and on the watch for their united comfort and happiness." 
The Fashionable Cypriad, on Dorothy Jordan. 

FOR some years Dorothy Jordan's life seems out- 
wardly to have run smoothly, and to offer nothing of 
great moment to the chronicler. She passed most of 
her time at Bushy, a new baby appearing almost every 

When the theatre opened in September 1801, 
Dorothy acted for about two months, then went into 
the country to prepare for the coming event, which 
occurred on January 18, on which date her daughter 
Elizabeth was born she who, through her marriage 
with the Earl of Errol, was to become the grandmother 
of the late Duke of Fife. 

Thirteen months later, on February 18, 1802, 
another child arrived, Adolphus, whether to the delight 
or distress of his parents is not revealed. By this time 
the public was beginning to look askance at that 
establishment at Bushy House, which seemed capable 
of producing a whole generation of pseudo-princelings, 
to demand support from John Bull. Thus, the Duke 


230 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

and Dorothy were made by newspaper comment to feel 
their children something of a care, and to regard each 
successive arrival with apprehension. The caricaturist 
also found this family a fit subject for brush and pencil 
though the output of pictorial skits was nothing 
compared with that which harried the early matri- 
monial life of Queen Victoria. The pictures were, 
however, much uglier; all Clarence's personal defects, 
his short stature, thick lips and goggle eyes being 
cruelly exaggerated. In one cartoon he is represented 
like a rough farmer mopping his heated brow, while 
he drags through the park a perambulator containing 
three hideous children, the mother walking behind 
and assiduously studying a theatrical part. But a hint 
or drawing of Dorothy, describing her as extravagant, 
or using money wrongly is not to be found among 
them, the tendency being rather to prove that she had 
little money to spend. Indeed, these two people 
seemed always to be hard up; the Duke's income was 
gone before it came, even though he lived fairly 
quietly, and Dorothy was too generous ever to be rich. 
She had many ways of spending an income, quite apart 
from her own home and personal expenses, and it was 
not difficult for her income to melt and leave no trace 
behind. The public seemed always to know when she 
felt particularly short of money, as the following 
very likely false anecdote shows 

" Mrs. Jordan, being once in great distress, and 
dunned by an apothecary, besought him to desist, as 
she was unable to pay him, and begged that he would 
be satisfied with taking her life. The son of ^Escula- 
pius, although he had no objection to sending people 
out of the world, -professionally, and secundem art em, 
was yet, nevertheless, quite staggered at a proposal 

Family Cares 231 

that sounded so terrible, and recoiled from it in 
evident horror. Mrs. Jordan, however, presented to 
him good heavens, a dagger, or some other dreadful 
weapon? No, reader, the instrument she presented 
was merely intended to kill time, viz. two volumes of 
her own Memoirs, which she tendered to the man of 
medicine, and thus relieved him from his amazement 
and apprehension." 

At this time, there seems to have been little differ- 
ence in her family dependents. George, gentle, 
affectionate and inefficient, was, more than likely, still 
a pensioner, though he was soon to seek his fortunes 
in America and to find there a pitiable death. Frank 
was, undoubtedly, still requiring all the assistance he 
could get from Dorothy, who could never refuse giving 
if she had anything to give. He was also the occa- 
sional cause of domestic trouble between her and the 
Duke, who, whatever his promises, protestations and 
bonds, seemed much more concerned about the dis- 
position of her money than about bestowing upon her 
the promised 1000 a year. 

The following letter must have been written when 
custom had staled the Duke's love and trust in his 
partner's carefulness ; for it reveals a somewhat painful 
state of things : 


" Having written to you immediately on the receipt 
of your last, saying that as soon as I got the money I 
would send you what I could spare, I was greatly 
surprised in not hearing from you in reply. That the 
person to whom I entrusted the letter actually opened 
it and kept it till this day, will account for my wishing 
you to copy the enclosed in a strange hand, and direct 

232 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

it to Mrs. King, George's Coffee-house, Haymarket. 
This woman was many years in the family at St. 
James, and I suppose wanted to catch me sending 
money to you or any of my family. The sooner you 
write the better. You must afterwards write such a 
letter to me that I may be able to show should (it) be 
necessary, and which I would indite for you. I will 
send you to-morrow 5. 

" Yours, 

"D. J." 

From this letter it can be seen that the Duke thought 
himself justified in saying how Dorothy might spend 
the money she earned, and that if she wished to help 
a worthless brother, disguised handwriting and round- 
about methods were requisite. It shows also a worse 
thing, and that was, that people about the Duke 
(notably one who had long been a servant in the Royal 
household), had permission, if not instructions, to spy 
upon Dorothy, and intercept her letters ! 

Frank had married, but he led an unsettled life, for 
he had now no profession. When he went to Trelethyn 
he was no doubt persuaded by Dorothy, who gave him 
an allowance of 50 a year; so he took a little house 
in the Cathedral Close of St. Davids, probably hoping 
to live the simple life within his income, as he had no 
children to support. However, this did not last long, 
and Captain Frank Bland returned once more to the 
wider world. What he did then is matter for con- 
jecture; begged of Dorothy, certainly, while she tried 
various means of finding him occupation. A friend of 
mine recently saw a letter which the Duke of York 
wrote to her from the Horseguards, in the spring of 
1799, promising to accede to her request of appoint- 

Family Cares 233 

ing some one to a certain post. Who was this? 
Perhaps Frank, under his own, or an assumed name; 
for the Duke of York, who was soon after sent to the 
Netherlands, was in a position then to make appoint- 
ments for that expedition. Perhaps Francis went with 
him, only to return once more to worry his sister. In 
any case, he entirely disappears from record after this, 
and it may be that a strange story told by Laurence 
Oliphant explains what became of him. 1 

Oliphant tells that when in Italy, in 1862, he visited 
Manfredonia, a town on the western coast. Walking 
through the streets one day, he was accosted by a little 
girl, who gave him a note which ran 

" Miss Thimbleby requests the pleasure of the 
English Gentleman's company to tea to-night, at 
nine o'clock. Old English Style." 

Possessed by the spirit of adventure, he accepted 
the invitation, and found his way in the evening to an 
old tumble-down palazzo. On entering, he mounted 
a wide and beautiful staircase of carved oak, at the top 
of which stood a little old woman, like a witch in 
appearance, bobbing and curtseying all the time he 
was making the ascent. She shook hands affection- 
ately and warmly, trembling with excitement or age 
for she was very, very old, well on in the nineties, she 
said. She had forgotten much of her English, having 
been in Italy since 1804, when she had gone there with 
her brother, who was appointed English Consul at 
Manfredonia, that year. Her brother and his wife had 
died long before, but she had a small pension from the 
English Government, and was taken care of by nieces 

1 Episode in a Life of Adventure in Albania and Italy. By Laurence 
Oliphant, 1887. 

234 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

and nephews. She also said that her brother had been 
connected with the Duke of York's expedition, and 
that her sister was the celebrated Mrs. Jordan. Oli- 
phant finishes his story with, " Manfredonia was an 
odd place to come to to gather the moss of English 
history, but I really felt as if I had made a discovery 
when I learnt from this most venerable, and highly 
respectable old lady that Mrs. Jordan, the actress's real 
name was Thimbleby." 

Oliphant certainly told this in all good faith, and 
was quite convinced of the good faith of the old lady, 
who was so used to her name that it could not occur to 
her that the family name was different; and though 
some critics may think it absurd to attach importance 
to the story, yet a student of biography knows the 
futility of putting aside any honest evidence without 
sifting it; and in this matter there is certainly room 
for conjecture. General circumstances lend to it an 
air of truth, for, early in the nineteenth century, when 
Napoleon was harassing Italy, many sub-consuls were 
appointed, especially for towns on the coast. So here 
arose a way of disposing of the tiresome Frank, and 
one which, by good management, it was easy to take. 
The Duke of Clarence, however, through whom it 
would have been worked, would not have risked, under 
the recurring state of public irritation against himself, 
the securing of even a minor appointment for a Bland, 
and the obvious method would have been to change 
the name. So a not inconceivable theory is that Frank, 
his wife, and his youngest sister, all under the name of 
Thimbleby, were comfortably shipped off to vegetate 
in the little town, whence they would find it very 
difficult to return. In any case, Frank is heard of no 
more as a hanger-on to Dorothy's fortunes, and the 

Family Cares 235 

relatives in Wales knew neither where nor when he 

Thirty years after the English Sub-consul was 
appointed at Manfredonia, a stranger called upon 
Hester Bland at Trelethyn, and told her that he was 
her nephew, "a son (as I thought) of her brother, 
Francis Bland. " * But Hester was getting old, 
seventy-five then, and she had never been clever, so 
she told him that he was not a Bland at all, and that her 
brother had no son. If the Thimbleby story is true, 
Frank had both son and daughter, after going to Italy. 

Hester, with her annuity of 50 a year, probably 
settled down in Trelethyn before the beginning of 
1800, for about this time, says the Welsh chronicles, 
three of Dorothy's girls were sent, under the care of an 
aunt, on a visit to their relatives there, staying a while 
in lodgings in St. Davids. As Hester was well-known 
by everyone there, and by the writer of the letter, 
stating this fact, it would have been recorded had she 
been the chaperone. 

Nathaniel, who alone, needed nothing of Dorothy, 
lived his quiet, childless life at Trelethyn until his 
death on May 31, 1830, his wife surviving until 1852. 

So, gradually, the burden of Dorothy's contem- 
porary relatives slipped from her shoulders, and left 
her free to think of the children who needed so much, 
and for a year or two she had something like family 
peace. But she could never have felt quite secure with 
such a man as Clarence, though she would now have 
found it difficult to imagine her life in any other cir- 
cumstances. Her love for the stage had waned, her 
ambition was satisfied, she had received adulation 
without stint, and she knew herself to be the best 

1 Family Letters. 

236 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

comedy actress on the stage. So she took longer holi- 
days before and after each confinement, and there were 
times when Drury Lane had cause to regret her 
absence. Yet the want of pence was too pressing for 
her to dream of retiring, even if her rivalry with Mrs. 
Siddons would have allowed her to desert the field of 
battle before that majestic actress did so. 

As for William of Clarence, if at one time he had 
shown signs of an errant fancy, he now appeared to 
take his domesticity as a long-standing habit, desiring 
nothing else. He was too far from the throne four 
lives for him to be a person of national importance, 
and no one cared whether he passed his life by the 
side of a comedy actress, or whether he married an 
impecunious German princess. Indeed, his fond 
parents, at this time, probably preferred the actress, 
as with her there was no need to keep up state, and she 
could do much to help the family exchequer. Habit 
and intimacy had deepened Dorothy's feelings, so that 
the connection, begun as a bargain, had developed into 
one of warm affection. She wrote in one letter of her 
dislike to writing of herself, but when she was away 
from Clarence she wrote to him almost every day, 
indeed, sometimes twice a day. These were not letters 
in the usual sense, they were emanations of herself, as 
inevitable as the atmosphere, she wrote because she 
must, and because her whole heart and soul were 
wrapped up in that nestful of children that she had 
left behind at Bushy Park, and the man who guarded 

William took naturally to the part of husband and 
father, as has been said ; he read over and criticized all 
new plays that might, or did, offer her a part ; he not 
only considered all offers from managers, but was some- 

Family Cares 237 

times the first person to be approached by a manager. 
His vanity still drew him to the Green Room when she 
performed, for he liked the more than respect which 
was offered him, the deference to his opinion however 
stupid or wild, which the actors gave; and he really 
believed himself a theatrical critic. 

In the autumn, Kemble re-took the management of 
Drury Lane, for he hoped to secure a third share in the 
theatre, the money matters of which were being 
adjusted. He had not altered, he still believed that 
Shakespeare was the only dramatist worthy of his 
attention, and this, while it proved him to be a man of 
literary perception, also proved his weakness as a 
caterer for the public. But modern comedy had no 
fascination for him, and new plays he still hated ; yet 
when Mrs. Jordan made her reappearance in March 
1 80 1, he had to agree to its being in The Country Girl, 
and, as manager, he must have been glad that the house 
was overflowing, and that she was received with shouts 
of delight; the papers next day reporting her as look- 
ing extremely well, and fascinating everyone with her 
winning gestures and sweet silvery voice. 

But Kemble did not follow up this advantage. He 
next put on a tragedy, Count Julian, which was " full 
of tedious horrors/' and then a play in which a ghost 
appeared three times, so that, at last, in place of a 
shuddering thrill, the spectred shade was greeted with 
hilarious laughter. Boaden says of him at this time, 
:t Though Kemble had the best comic actress in the 
world in his company, he let Covent Garden take all 
the advantage of him"; and whenever he was at a 
loss he put on A Bold Stroke For a Wife, his stock 
piece "for all the damned among the plays." He 
loved spectacle almost as much as he did Shakespeare, 

238 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

and was kept as before, almost without money. Thus, 
having come back to all the old disadvantages, and 
retaining all his old predilections, it is not surprising 
that the theatre closed in the middle of June, after a 
disastrous season. 

In the spring of 1802, Dorothy did not appear in 
London until April 5th, beginning as usual in The 
Country Girl. " She never looked better, nor played 
with greater effect," said a writer in the Monthly 
Mirror. She was now forty, and seems to have re- 
tained her youthful appearance remarkably for that 
period. At Richmond that summer, it was judged that 
" time had made no inroads upon her superior talent," 
and one paper declared that her private character was 
so " that were we to divest it of its great public excel- 
lence, which is certainly unrivalled, the countenance 
and support that lady receives from the nobility and 
gentry round Richmond would not be unmerited." 

She acted almost every summer at this town, and 
also at Margate, probably not being always quite 
punctual in arriving, as the following advertisement 
makes a special point of the fact that she was already 
in the town 


is engaged to perform six nights and will make her first appearance 

this evening in the character of Letitia Hardy. 

N.B. Mrs. Jordan is arrived. 

Theatre Royal, Margate. 

This present evening 

Monday, the 23rd of August, 1802, 

will be presented the favourite comedy of 


Dorincourt Mr. Russell." 

Family Cares 239 

The following letter to the manager of the Margate 
Theatre, arranging for this visit is interesting, in that 
it shows the terms Dorothy made at this time ; terms 
which seem to be peculiarly complicated ; and also that 
she acknowledges that she has " permission " to play, 
this could have been only from the Duke, as presum- 
ably no permission was necessary during the summer 
season, when Drury Lane was closed. 

" Bushy House, Saturday. (Postmark 1802.) 

"Mrs. Jordan's compliments to Mr. Shaw; if the 
following terms meet his approbation, she will perform 
at Margate six nights, at thirty guineas per night, the 
;th, clear of all expenses, for her benefit; twenty 
guineas for her expenses ; in consideration of this, she 
will perform the 8th night for ten pounds, for the 
proprietors. Mrs. Jordan will be obliged for an 
immediate answer, having got permission to play, and 
having many applications." 

Before she ended her visit to the Kentish watering- 
place, an alarming accident occurred while The 
Country Girl was being acted, for in the window scene 
the flame from one of the lamps on the stage caught 
the train of her dress, and she was instantly in a blaze. 
Happily there were many people at hand to help, and. 
she was not hurt, though one side of her clothing was 
almost consumed. The fright among the audience was 
great, but Dorothy insisted upon going through with 
the play, "though in a very depressed state." She 
ought, according to the fashion of the time, to have 
fainted, but was too unconsciously modern for that. 

It was on May 25, 1802, that Tom King took his 
farewell of the public, and Dorothy played Lady 
Teazle with great vivacity to his Sir Peter. King had 

240 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

been acting for fifty-four years, and had well-earned 
in his turn the title of the Father of the Stage. On this 
his last night, at the conclusion of the play, Charles 
Kemble led the old man to the front, and he tremu- 
lously stumbled through his farewell, being raptur- 
ously applauded by the touched audience. When he 
had finished, Mrs. Jordan, looking " absolutely beauti- 
ful from the interest she took," led him from the stage 
to a seat in the Green Room, where he had to listen 
to the usual kindly speeches, and accept a silver salver 
and cup, Dorothy raising the latter to his lips that he 
might consecrate it to his own use. 

In May of the following year she helped another 
old actor, Charles Lee Lewis, to say farewell to the 
public at Covent Garden, playing Violante in The 
Wonder, with him. Mrs. Litchfield, whom she had once 
watched acting at Richmond with so much interest, was 
to recite " Alexander's Feast," and coming downstairs 
dressed for her part, she met Dorothy, who complained 
to her that she was suffering from nervousness, and 
taking Mrs. Litchfield's hand, she pressed it to her 
heart (which was generally in her mouth, says the 
facetious Boaden) to feel how it trembled. " Now 
you are a good, kind creature," she said, "will you 
take the book to the wing and prompt me if I should be 
at a loss?" 

In the summer of 1802, Kemble again, and finally, 
resigned his management; making his last speech in 
Drury Lane Theatre on June 24th, after Dorothy had 
been playing Viola. He had been receiving fifty-five 
guineas a week, and was not then forty-five; but his 
desire to be owner of a theatre bearing his name made 
him break entirely with the house in the service of which 
he had spent so many years, and go to Covent Garden 

Family Cares 241 

with Mrs. Siddons and his brother Charles. To guide 
the theatre, a board of management had been estab- 
lished, and one of its five members was Sir Richard 
Ford, elected because of his position as a shareholder. 
Bannister, who believed in comedy, became acting- 
manager, and he and Mrs. Jordan were the two main 
props of the theatre, for Mrs. Crouch was also gone. 
' Time was when she possessed great powers of 
attraction, but now the period is past past, never to 
return. She is getting old," announced a magazine. 
It was not age, for she was two years younger than 
Dorothy, but illness induced by drink said some, 
consumption said others and she died abroad in 

Towards the end of 1802, Dorothy was away from 
the theatre, not because of her own illness, but because 
of the serious illness of one of her children. She was 
engaged to play Miranda in The Busybody for the 
first time, and Bannister, fearful of losing her help, had 
his anxiety relieved when, early in December, she 
wrote to him 

" I am sure you will be glad to hear that my dear 
little girl is so much better to-night, that Sir John 
Hayes has pronounced her quite out of danger. I shall 
therefore be ready for to-morrow's rehearsal at eleven 
o'clock, and also to play Miranda. The Duke, as well 
as myself, is most obliged to you for your kind concern 
and attention, which I shall ever think of with pleasure 
and gratitude. 

" Yours, D. JORDAN." 

Serious domestic worry was beginning to press 
hardly upon her, for the affairs of the Duke were 
getting into a worse and worse condition, debt was 

242 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

piling heavily upon him, and much as Dorothy might 
have liked to devote herself to her family, the need of 
money was too great for her to have the opportunity of 
doing so for long at a time. If Clarence did sometimes 
wish that she might stay at home, as is generally 
affirmed, he was very philosophiqal over her absences, 
and as Boaden said about the play The Marriage 
Promise by Allingham, which brought much grist to 
the mill 

" Mr. * Adviser ' did not in the least demur to Mrs. 
Jordan's accepting her character in the present 

Another cause of growing worry was her eldest 
daughter, Frances, or Fanny as she was generally 
called, who was a troublesome person to manage. She 
was not at all beautiful ; when, in 1815, she tried acting 
the critics variously pronounced her as "too deficient 
in personal appearance/' " face and figure an insuper- 
able bar to success," " she has but little to account for 
to nature in point of her personal appearance. Short 
in stature, lusty in person, and not very elegantly 
formed, nor blessed with very fascinating features." 
This would have mattered little, in one way, had she 
been of a more sober character, but her whole history 
points to fickleness, hot temper and want of self- 

However, Dorothy was ever hopeful about her girls, 
who, as long as they remained girls, were to her the 
best living. So when Frances came of age in 1803, 
she gained her desire of a house in London, one being 
chosen in Golden Square, where, with much festivity, 
she was settled, in touch with many of her mother's 
friends. The other two girls, Dorothea and Lucy, 
lived sometimes with her and sometimes with their 

Family Cares 243 

mother at Bushy. Of the third girl, Hester, there 
is at this time no record. 

If Dorothy was so extravagant as to allow her eldest 
daughter an income and a house in town, she had to 
pay for it, though there was evidence later that she 
had saved money for this purpose which money had 
been lent to the Duke. So that her daughter might 
frivol in London, she started her spring season of 1804 
as early as January 2, and acted almost without rest 
until the autumn. With her representation of Widow 
Cheerly in The Soldier's Daughter, she made both 
public and management happy, for the play produced 
,7500 in twenty nights, and this was partly owing to 
her ability to seize on popular fervour at the right 
moment. There was just then a tremendous enthu- 
siasm for volunteering, and she electrified the 
audience by giving a soldier-like delivery of Atten- 
tion ! and speaking an epilogue describing, with much 
humour, the constitution of a female army of reserve. 

Delaval and Clara Dorothy is said to have entirely 
saved from destruction, but The Land we Live In 
having been tremendously well-announced was, 
partly by reaction, found disappointing. The audience 
showed its scorn so actively that Dorothy most wisely 
refused to speak the Epilogue, which ran 

"'Give you an Epilogue? not I,' says he, 
* An epilogue's an ex post facto plea 
That comes behind, when all the mischief's done, 
And play and poet, hooted, damned and gone." 

She played at Bannister's benefit at Drury Lane, 
and for that of Bannister Junior at Covent Garden, 
and in the summer went to Margate for eight nights, 
where, though there was " much genteel company in the 
boxes, the house was not well attended." However, 
she carried away 208 as a result of the week's work. 

244 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

It was in the autumn of 1804 that England went 
foolish over a child of thirteen years, whose name was 
Henry West Betty, and who, having seen Mrs. 
Siddons in her deepest tragedy two years earlier, was 
so inspired with emulation, that he declared he should 
die if he were not an actor. His father encouraged 
him, gave him some training, and took him through 
Ireland, Scotland and the Provinces acting the chief 
characters in tragic plays. The novelty affected the 
public in an extraordinary way; so that Mr. Betty 
considered that only the most important theatres in the 
country were suitable as settings for his son's talents. 
Thus, in December 1804, he appeared at Covent 
Garden, and on the first night crowds gathered as 
early as one or two o'clock for the doors to open, people 
stretching in thick impenetrable columns across Bow 
Street. Those who had no hope of entering the 
building lined the streets and windows, the excitement 
being so great that a large number of police officers 
were gathered inside the theatre, and a detachment of 
guards outside. Many in the crowd fainted, and when 
at last the doors were opened there was danger of 
suffocation in the passages. People paid for boxes 
and arrived to find seats crammed with those who had 
climbed in over the front from other parts of the house, 
others paid their money for the pit, and on getting in, 
found it thronged to suffocation by folk who had taken 
more expensive places, and had climbed down from 
the boxes. It was uproar and confusion of the worst 
kind, for no consideration was given to anybody. The 
manager, Kemble, came on to speak the prologue, and 
was howled off, the discriminating audience wanted to 
see Betty, and Betty only would they see and hear. 

Family Cares 245 

Even the first act of the play, Barbarossa, in which the 
boy did not appear, was hissed, and cries made for 
him. When he was on the stage, everything he did 
or said was applauded rapturously, for only he existed 
for this demented audience. 

Thomas Campbell was full of scorn for him, saying 
that, "The popularity of that baby-faced boy, who 
possessed not even the elements of a good actor, was a 
hallucination in the public mind, and a disgrace to our 
theatre history. . . . He received payment for his 
childish acting that was never accorded to Garrick or 

This infant played ten nights at Covent Garden, 
taking fifty guineas a night, and then went to Drury 
Lane ; the twenty-eight nights he played there bringing 
to the theatre 17,210, snatching it from ruin, and 
causing his far-seeing father to double the price of his 
services. Neither Dorothy nor Mrs. Siddons could 
have any hope of working this miracle, and while the 
second retired from sight, and Kemble had a con- 
venient illness, the first mildly joined in the general 
excitement. Whether she believed in Betty or not, 
the Duke of course did, and she was naturally 
influenced by him. Being a comedy actress, her 
prestige did not suffer as that of the Kembles did 
so bitterly equally with her pocket. So she went 
to see the boy, applauded him, and probably watched 
with amused indulgence the enthusiasm of that great 
dramatic critic, the Duke of Clarence. He made 
himself very busy over Betty, frankly taking him 
up, interviewing him at St. James's Palace, having 
portraits of him painted by James Northcote, the 
academician, sometimes driving him to the studio for 

246 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

his sittings, and even remaining to watch the painting. 
One of these portraits, that in the character of young 
Norval, the Duke presented to young Betty, who had 
it engraved and dedicated to his patron. 

For one season, Master Betty flourished like the 
green bay tree, but in the second season the changeable 
London audience began to laugh in the wrong places, 
and " he faded like a premature blossom," as Bannister 
said. However, while he acted, he amassed a sufficient 
fortune for him to live in comfortable style in the West 
End of London until he died of old age. 

Drury Lane was in low water, and made desperate 
attempts to swell its exchequer by introducing one 
freakish child after another, one being four and a half 
years old, and even to the extent of engaging a whole 
troup of German infants, and putting on a confident 
little girl named Fisher to act Little Pickle. The 
audience seems to have put up with it once in the 
spring of 1805, but when she appeared again in 
October, they yelled and hissed until the curtain was 
dropped, and not a word of the farce was heard. 
Dorothy herself seems to have been responsible for the 
introduction of a little boy, " another Roscius, who 
acted at Richmond that summer with some eclat." 
Slowly the craze died out, and the theatrical world 
recovered its sanity. 

There was some disagreement between Dorothy and 
Bannister at Drury Lane at the beginning of 1805, over 
a play named The Honeymoon. She might have had 
the choice of two parts, but it seems that, not unlike 
actresses of a more recent date, she wished to focus 
attention upon herself, and, finding that these two parts 
were equally important, and that the honours must be 

Family Cares 247 

shared, she determined not to play at all; a decision 
which Bannister thought unjustifiable; however, 
Harriot Mellon came to the rescue, and was very 
successful. 1 

Thus, her own benefit in April or May, and benefits 
for other actors made up her theatrical life for the first 
half of 1805. But her absence from the theatre just 
then was only partially due to the dispute, for on 
March i a son was born to her at Bushy House, to 
whom was given the name of Augustus ; another baby, 
Augusta, having come into the world on November 20, 
1803. This gave her twelve or thirteen children to 
think about, and it is no wonder that her attendances 
were less and less frequent at the theatre. Yet, in 
September 1805, she started again in The Country 
Girl, " the chef d'ceuvre of this incomparable actress," 
performed Violante in The Wonder for some one's 
benefit, and was acting through to December. 

1 Memoirs of Harriot, Duchess of St. Albans. By Mrs. Cornwall Baron 



" I frequently asked myself as the encore was reiterated, what in the 
name of reason could conduce to call forth such popular enthusiasm. 
That a few simple notes uttered by a very mediocre voice, unadorned 
by shake or cadence, should create a ferment bordering on enthusiasm, 
was, 1 confess, to me inexplicable, and what is more, will ever remain so ; 
at the same time, do not misunderstand me, the plaudits were not one 
jot the less welcome to my feelings." DOROTHY JORDAN on her own 

THE Duke had struggled on with his monetary diffi- 
culties until early in 1806, and then he had a stroke 
of luck : for some vessels captured after the Battle 
of Trafalgar had brought a large sum to the King's 
treasury, and the King's sons were given a share of 
the spoil Clarence, Kent, Cumberland and Sussex 
having each 20,000 wherewith to pay off some of 
their debts. This was a prize; but early in 1806, Pitt 
having died in January, the Duke of Clarence's con- 
stant application for a larger income was met by an 
increase of 6000, bringing up his annual total to 
18,000. He had further the pay of an Admiral of 
the Fleet and " the profitable situation of Ranger of 
Bushey Park." In addition there was Dorothy's in- 
come; as The Monthly Mirror grumbling over the 
increase put it, he had the peculiar advantage of an 
excellent and economical housekeeper " who has acted 
her -part both in public and private with deserved suc- 
cess." Thus, apart from Dorothy's money, he had 
not less than 20,000 a year, and probably more. 

It is true that he had by bond settled a thousand a 
year upon the mother of his children, but what did 
that exactly mean ? Simply that she lived with him as 


Slings and Arr6ws 249 

his wife, and shared in his surroundings. That she 
kept her income separately from his is scarcely to be 
credited, any more than it can be believed that he paid 
over to her a certain sum quarterly or yearly. The 
author of The Great Illegitimates, in a temporary fit 
of admiration, says that he was munificent to those 
around him and lived upon his income, and that 
Dorothy, instead of forcing him into dissipation and 
folly, led him into paths of domesticity, study and 
self-improvement, and that though she might be a 
somewhat expensive treasure she curbed prodigality 
to any dangerous extent; also, that his conduct 
endeared him to the whole neighbourhood in which he 
lived. Then it added that this esteem in a slightly 
lesser degree was extended to Dorothy, because it 
was known that she could not possibly be more 
honourably allied to Clarence "without breaking the 
sacred bar of an Act of Parliament." Yet, after all 
this is said, the Duke was constantly in debt, and 
though he had an idea that to have his income 
increased by half would mean riches, he soon dis- 
covered that it meant little but the opportunity for a 
little more indulgence, and a great deal more debt. 
However, just at first this conjugal pair thought they 
were going to do wonders. 

In the early part of the year, before the grant was 
made, Dorothy was quite prepared to continue her 
work, as is shown by the following letter written in 
February to Bannister the younger, who had had an 
attack of gout 


" I have been prevented by constant employ- 
ment from answering your obliging notes. I am 

250 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

sincerely sorry for your confinement, but trust it will 
soon end. We never know how to value a friend and 
great talents sufficiently till we are deprived of them. 
We have been long enough without you to make us 
subscribe now heartily to this old saying. 

' The three tragedies you have sent me I have read 
this day, and, notwithstanding there is much pretty 
writing in the part you mention, I do not think I could 
do myself or the author any service by undertaking it. 
I think Mrs. Siddons would do great justice to it. I 
find laughing agrees with me much better than crying. 
Do come out soon and re-establish my health I mean 
my theatrical health which without you is certainly 
on the decline. My best compliments to Mrs. 
Bannister and your fair daughters. 

' Yours very sincerely, 

" D. JORDAN." 

But though Bannister got well again and took up 
his duties Dorothy forgot her theatrical health, and 
went no more on the stage, it being probably agreed 
that now she could afford to be idle, excepting when 
she gave her services, as on February 12, when she 
took prominent parts for the benefit of Tom King's 
widow, for the old actor had not long survived his 

The company gave The School for Scandal and 
The Fair Circassian, following these with a tableau 
named " Thalia's Tears," showing Parnassus in the 
background with Mrs. Jordan as Thalia sitting upon 
a pedestal in the centre weeping over Tom King's urn. 
On each side stood actors dressed in the most admired 
of the old man's characters, while Thalia, "in melli- 
fluous tones and feeling energy of gesture," recorded 

Slings and Arrows 251 

King's virtues, after which lines were recited by the 
other performers and a dirge was sung by Braham, 
Kelly, Storace and Mrs. Bland. 

Now we come to an incident which seems to point 
back to Dorothy's past. Boaden and the author of 
The Great Illegitimates emphasize the belief that, but 
for Ford and Clarence Daly can scarcely be blamed 
to her her life had been spotless. This was not 
altogether the general opinion in the first year of her 
life in London, when a report arose of the Prince of 
Wales's admiration for her, which, however, was con- 
tradicted by the observation that it " sprung from 
cunning ; it was the puff of the day to put a feather in 
the lady's cap, and had the good effect of advertising 
her into popularity." 

In the same article (in The Town and Country 
Magazine) it is frankly assumed that she had lovers : 
" Mrs. Tomboy has always been prudent in her 
amours. Her present favourite (Ford) is not the choice 
of love ; his proximity to one of the proprietors of the 
theatre secures her a strong interest which she wisely 
considers of more real value than any immediate 
pecuniary advantage." 

From this it might be gathered that Ford was not 
the first of Dorothy's town lovers, that there had been 
one other at least. However, if so, no direct evidence 
has been gathered of his personality or position ; there 
are, however, the references made in various journals 
to the number of her children independent of the 
Fitzclarences. Four, said The Morning Post, in 1 792, 
four, said The Fashionable Cypriad in 1798, and five, 
"one of whom died," said The Great Illegitimates. 
The young sister who was educated with her children 
by Mr. Lloyd in 1798 is another curious fact. On the 

252 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

other hand, only the three girls Frances, Dorothea 
and Lucy are mentioned by Boaden. Now Boaden 
knew things which he did not tell, but very occasionally 
he told things which others did not know, and thus it 
is he who seems to give a clue to the mystery. 

In 1806 a rumour arose that Mrs. Jordan's daughter 
had been left a fortune by an old gentleman on con- 
dition that she took the name of Bettesworth. No one 
knew much about this, and no one was quite clear as 
to the condition; one said that the money had been 
offered to Dorothy, but that she refused to change her 
name, and her eldest daughter was suggested as a 
substitute; others that it had been bequeathed direct 
to the girl. No one is sure as to which girl benefited; 
private letters suggest it to be Dorothea or Lucy, 
and some newspapers declare it to be Frances, rest- 
ing that belief in the words " Mrs. Jordan's eldest 

There is no doubt of the fact that there was money 
left in some way, for early in 1806 Dorothy took a 
house on Twickenham Common, known then as 
Gyfford Lodge. The common was a common then, 
and not a small triangular green. Gyfford Lodge 
largely rebuilt, and now spelt Gifford still stands, its 
gardens contracted, and surrounded by a high wall in 
place of the low wooden palings of a century ago. 
In this house the Marchioness of Tweeddale had died 
in 1788, and General Gunning, a brother of the second 
set of beautiful Miss Gunnings, lived there for a time. 
It was let to Dorothy for 50 a year equal, per- 
haps, to ,150 at the present day but in 1807 she 
got it reduced to 45, the rates being I cannot refrain 
from saying " Happy rate-payers ! " but a shilling in 
the pound. 

Slings and Arrows 253 

The house secured, decorating and furnishing must 
have been an absorbing matter, and then on July 12 a 
great coming-out or coming-of-age party was given in 
it by Miss Bettesworth. And as Frances had come out 
long before, and had come of age to a fanfare of 
trumpets three years earlier, when she was settled in 
Golden Square, she may be ruled out of the matter, 
for she could scarcely have repeated the process in a 
new house, among the old friends. Here are some 
of the contemporary accounts of the party. The Sun 
of July 13 reported that, "Miss Bettesworth, Mrs. 
Jordan's eldest daughter, gave a splendid rural fete 
on Monday last at Gyfford Lodge, Twickenham. The 
grounds were decorated with great taste, splendour 
and beauty, but the weather was not very favourable 
to entertainments out of doors. The whole of the 
house, but particularly the great saloon, was adorned 
and illumined in a very brilliant and elegant manner; 
a military band afforded much pleasure, and some 
rustic sports varied and enlivened the scene. There 
was a magnificent supper about twelve o'clock after 
dancing, and Mrs. Jordan presided over the whole. 
The Duke of Clarence was, of course, of the party, 
and a very large part of the fashionable circles was 
present. A vast crowd from neighbouring villages 
assembled round the mansion and gardens, and were 
happy spectators of this superb and beautiful scene of 
rural festivity." 

A further paragraph added that Miss Bettesworth 
assumed that name on account of considerable pro- 
perty which had been bequeathed her on that con- 
dition, and described her as " a very amiable and 
accomplished young lady." 

The Morning Post of Monday, July 14, notices that 

254 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

to the fete six hundred guests were invited, including 
the Dowager Countess of Buckinghamshire (Mrs. 
Hobart of the letter) and the Earl of Massereene, that 
the breakfast was given at 4.30 in four tents on the 
lawn, and that ten thousand people from the country- 
side stood round the railings to see the favourite 
actress entertaining her friends. 

One daily paper announced in its theatrical gossip 
that at Richmond, notwithstanding the heavy rain, a 
grand fete champetre was given by Mrs. Jordan on 
the coming-of-age of her eldest daughter. 

It was, however, Boaden's paper, The Daily 
Advertiser and Oracle, which gave a remarkable note 
to the affair : " The father of Miss Bettesworth, Mrs. 
Jordan's eldest daughter, died not long ago, and has 
left the young lady a very handsome fortune ; it is not 
flattery to say he has not bequeathed her more than 
she deserves, for she is a very amiable young woman 
and no ' spoilt child/ ' Of this matter the writer of 
The Great Illegitimates knew little, and simply 
reported that it was said " that an elderly gentleman 
named Bettesworth at this juncture tendered Mrs. 
Jordan a very ample fortune in the event of her taking 
his name, and becoming his representative." 

Boaden, the only other important chronicler of 
Dorothy's life, concealed his knowledge under, " I 
understand some old gentleman of the name of Bettes- 
worth offered Mrs. Jordan a very handsome fortune 
to take his name and become his representative." 

Search has revealed no Bettesworth will or deed 
bequeathing money to any of the Jordans; it has, how- 
ever, shown that on November 27, 1805, there died at 
Swanmere House, near Salisbury, William Augustus 
Bettesworth, aged 70, formerly Judge Advocate of 

Slings and Arrows 255 

his Majesty's Fleet and many years an eminent 
attorney at Portsea. This gentleman had no children ; 
his will was somewhat curious, too, for though in it he 
leaves to his mother, wife and brother a great quantity 
of landed property, no money at all is mentioned, 
which leads to the natural supposition that he had 
already disposed of his money. 

There is no proof in this that he was once connected 
with Mrs. Jordan, but the date of his death was just 
at the right period, and the affair must be left at that. 

The curious point is that Miss Bettesworth disap- 
pears entirely from the story after this, only the three 
girls known as Jordan, both before and after the event, 
being mentioned in Boaden's Life; thus that eldest 
girl, said to have been named Hester and generally 
regarded as a Ford daughter, probably took her 
money with her name, and was henceforth little 
involved in the fortunes of her mother's family. 

Frances was occupying the house in Golden Square 
for several years, which is proved by an undated letter 
written by Dorothy on paper made in 1805 concerning 
a dispute about a harp. 

" Mrs. Jordan's compliments to Mr. Hyde, she was 
very sorry she was not at home when he called in 
Golden Square, as she wished to come to some settle- 
ment with regard to the harp she was to receive as a 
remuneration for a song she gave him permission to 
print on these terms, she has before acquainted Mr. 
Hyde that the instrument was so very bad that she 
never could make use of it in consequence of its 
having been of unseasoned wood; the first week she 
had it it burst, even the brass that was connected with 
the machinery, and has remained in that state ever 

256 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

since, as every workman she applied to mend it 
declared that it was never good for anything. Mrs. 
Jordan is fearful that this statement, that has been laid 
before Mr. Hyde two or three times, has escaped his 
recollection, for she is certain that when she gave the 
preference to his house he meant to have given her a 
good instrument, and so far a return for a song which 
was very popular and consequently very profitable, 
and for which she could have been very handsomely 
paid. Mrs. Jordan requests he will take this into 
consideration, and she makes no doubt of the result 
being perfectly satisfactory to her." 

The Bettesworth party was not the only one which 
made a sensation this summer in social circles, for 
when the Duke of Clarence attained his forty-first year 
in August he, too, gave a party. He had done the 
same before without attracting notoriety, but unfor- 
tunately for his peace of mind much advertisement 
was given to it this year, probably through Dorothy's 
own thoughtless agency in allowing such full reports 
to appear in the papers. These passed for the moment 
without criticism; but William Cobbett was editor of 
The Political Register, a man whose soul was burning 
within him at the hardships of the poor, and who had 
been deeply influenced by the French Revolution. 
He had no love for princes, and the lives of the King's 
sons were scarcely likely to give him any respect for 
them; he had also been keenly opposed to the grant 
to Clarence. So in September 1806 he reprinted the 
report of the August birthday party, adding to it a 
bitter and contemptuous criticism. He was a journalist 
as well as a reformer, and if he could have eliminated 
from his attack the trick of exaggeration and false 

Slings and Arrows 257 

conclusion his article would have been more crushing. 
As it was, it was more likely to provoke anger than 
anything else. The report is as follows 

" The Duke of Clarence's birthday was celebrated 
with much splendour in Bushy Park on Thursday. 
The grand hall was entirely new fitted up with bronze 
pilasters and various marble imitations; the ceiling 
very correctly clouded, and the whole illuminated with 
some brilliant patent lamps, suspended from a beauti- 
ful eagle. The dining-room in the right wing was 
fitted up in a modern style with new elegant lamps at 
the different entrances. The pleasure ground was dis- 
posed for the occasion, and the servants had new 
liveries. In the morning the Dukes of York's and 
Kent's bands arrived in caravans ; after dressing them- 
selves and dining, they went into the pleasure grounds 
and played alternately some charming pieces. The 
Duke of Kent's played some of the choruses and 
movements from Haydn's Oratorio of the Creation, 
arranged by command of his Royal Highness for a 
band of wind instruments. About five o'clock the 
Prince of Wales, the Dukes of York, Kent, Sussex 
and Cambridge, Colonel Paget, etc., arrived from 
reviewing the German Legion. After they had 
dressed for dinner they walked in the pleasure 
grounds, accompanied by the Lord Chancellor, Earl 
and Countess of Athlone and daughter, Lord Lei- 
cester, Baron Hotham and Lady, Baron Eden, the 
Attorney General, Colonels Paget and M'Mahon, 
Serjeant Marshall, and a number of other persons. At 
seven o'clock the second bell announced the dinner, 
when the Prince took Mrs. Jordan by the hand, led her 
into the dining-room, and seated her at the head of 
the table. The Prince took his seat at her right hand, 

258 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

and the Duke of York at her left; the Duke of Cam- 
bridge sat next to the Prince, the Duke of Kent next 
to the Duke of York, and the Lord Chancellor next 
to his Royal Highness. The Duke of Clarence sat 
at the foot of the table. It is hardly necessary to say 
the table was sumptuously covered with everything 
the season could afford. The bands played on the lawn, 
close to the dining-room window. The populace 
were permitted to enter the pleasure grounds to behold 
the Royal Banquet [all of whom partook of the royal 
bounty, says another report], while the presence of 
Messrs. Townsend, Sayers and Macmanus, preserved 
the correct decorum. The Duke's numerous family 
were introduced and admired by the Prince, the Royal 
Dukes and the whole company; an infant in arms, 
with a most beautiful white head of hair, was brought 
into the dining-room by the nursery maid. After dinner 
the Prince gave ' the Duke of Clarence/ which was 
drunk with three times three; the Duke then gave 
* The King/ which was drunk in a solemn manner. A 
discharge of cannon from the lawn followed ' The 
Queen and the Princesses/ * the Duke of York and the 
Army/ His Royal Highness's band then struck up 
his celebrated march/' 

The white-haired boy would have been Augustus. 
As to the cannon which were fired so joyfully, they 
are still at Bushy House guarding the main entrance. 
But before Mr. .Glazebrook took his wonderful 
Laboratory there they served a very undignified but 
useful purpose, their ends being embedded deeply at 
either side of the front door, and lamps fixed into their 
yawning mouths. To return to Cobbett's criticism 

He began by pretending that the whole story was a 
lie, it being reprinted by him solely that the Duke 

Slings and Arrows 259 

might deny it publicly. Then the Duke of York's 
marches came in for pointed satire, for it was barely 
half-a-dozen years since he had been obliged to march 
out of Belgium. But Cobbett reserved his fury of 
contempt for the musical incident 

* The representing of the oratorio of The Creation, 
and arranged by the Duke of Kent, too, applied to the 
purpose of ushering in the numerous family of the 
Duke of Clarence, thus representing the Duke of 
Kent as employed in an act whereby the procreation 
of a brood of illegitimate children is put in comparison 
with the great work of the Almighty is, in this writer's 
opinion, an act of the most insidious disloyalty, and 
of blasphemy the most daring." 

Now the playing of the selections took place in the 
afternoon and in the garden, while the babies were 
not introduced to the dining guests until after seven 
in the evening ; thus in the minds of the arrangers of 
the fete the two events were in no ways connected, 
and neither blasphemy nor insidious disloyalty ex- 
isted save in Cobbett' s somewhat crooked reasoning. 
Would God " whatever God there be " consider a 
lusty young family such as Dorothy's something to be 
despised, even though certain formulas had not been 
uttered over the parents ? A marriage ceremony is a 
protective rite, invented by society; children are a 
work of nature and it may be therefore the most 
important part of the affair in the eyes of the 

Cobbett proceeded that it was foully to slander his 
Royal Highness to declare that he had been guilty 
of the crime of bringing bastards into the world; and 
then turned his attention upon Dorothy. While 
speaking of the Duke he had retained a mock respect- 

260 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

ful air, but as soon as he spoke of her he fell into 
vulgarity; for humanist as he was, he evidently held 
that the sin of the man who sins is venial compared 
with the equal sin of the woman. He said 

" This representation and accusation I must and do 
find false (that this dinner was held), and I am con- 
firmed in this my opinion, when I hear the same writer 
assert that the Prince of Wales took Mother Jordan 
by the hand and, in the presence of a Countess, a 
Countess's daughter and a Baroness, seated her at the 
head of the table, taking his place upon her right hand, 
his royal brothers arranging themselves, according to 
their rank on both sides of the table, the post of honour 
being nearest Mother Jordan, who, the last time I saw 
her, cost me eighteen pence in her character of Nell 

If the articles in The Bon Ton, Town and Country 
and kindred magazines may be credited, there were 
many high-born ladies at the period, who were wives 
and mothers and yet notorious for the looseness of 
their morals, and compared with whom Dorothy was 
a good and respectable woman, yet they went free of 
the reformer's biting words ; but, then, an actress was 
but a vagabond, after all, and, as Dorothy often 
proved, could be thrashed with impunity for the sins 
of the world. 

Twenty-six years later, in 1832, when the Reform 
Bill was agitating all politicians, and a multitude of 
people who were no politicians, Cobbett reprinted this 
article as an attack upon the Earl of Munster, 
Dorothy's eldest son, who was accused of influencing 
the King against reform; and the article was then 
headed The Fitzjordans, part of the introductory 
paragraph being : " Twenty-six years ago, when these 

Slings and Arrows 261 

people were babies, I foresaw the consequences that 
might arise from their existence." 

Never again was there any public advertisement 
made of Dorothy's festivities at Bushy House, and 
when the Duke's birthdays came round only the names 
of men were reported as present. 

But if purists were concerned in throwing odium 
upon Dorothy's name, there were many needy people 
who were ready to bless her. Pierce Egan, in his 
entertaining book, The Life of an Actor , gives a story 
which proves this. Strolling players attended at fairs 
to make their harvest, often a poor enough one ; and 
Egan was in the habit of taking his company to 
Twickenham Fair. In 1807 he determined to have 
one night extra a private night he calls it after the 
fair closed; so he sent out bills announcing Douglas, 
and The Miller of Mansfield. The performance was 
to be given on their temporary stage on Twickenham 
Common, nearly two miles from Richmond Theatre, 
at which Messrs. Copeland and Russell's company 
was acting. It was customary with Egan to invite his 
people to a picnic on Eelpie Island the day after the 
fair, so they were all gathered there eating eel pies 
and drinking ale and " as merry as could be," when 
a note was brought to them from the Richmond 
managers, saying that a benefit was taking place that 
night at their theatre, and if Egan dared to perform 
they would apply to a magistrate and have the whole 
company locked up. 

The laws concerning theatres were stringent, and 
yet more honoured in the breach than in the observ- 
ance ; but they could be put into force both easily and 
cruelly. The players at a fair were frankly vagabonds 
and, according to law, in their right place ; but as soon 

262 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

as they began to act independently they like dust 
were but matter in the wrong place, something to be 
removed. Thus this threat was a serious thing; yet 
Egan, well warmed with ale, only laughed and 
returned answer that if he were taken up, it should be 
by the authority of a magistrate and not by two 
vagrants like himself. However, he had not drunk 
too much to have his wits about him, and he went off 
at once to Mrs. Jordan, "that justly celebrated and 
much lamented actress," who was then at Gyfford 
Lodge. She heard his story, and could scarcely 
believe that Copeland and Russell would be guilty 
of such meanness, yet as she knew the handwriting 
well she promised to use her influence, and advised 
Egan to go back to his company and perform without 
any fear. She also promised to make up a party, and 
if she could not come herself, to send some of her 
children. She kept her word, and the evening passed 
successfully and without mishap, though the next morn- 
ing Copeland and Russell tried to retaliate by engag- 
ing Egan's chief actor, who, however, loyally refused 
to leave his company until the end of the season. 

The following undated letter to some journalist 
will also serve to show how keen were Dorothy's 
sympathies, and how ready she was to do good in 
secret fashion. 


" Perhaps the same pen which so feelingly 
described the distress of an unfortunate family would, 
on perusal of the enclosed, exert itself once more, in 
the same way, and through the same channel. I will 
pay for the articles, and should be happy if by 
this means and my own exertions I could be enabled 

Slings and Arrows 263 

to get a few pounds for this unhappy writer, whose 
situation I know to be exactly what is described. I 
will not run the risk of offending you by apologies, the 
motive will, I am sure, be sufficient to procure me 
pardon. I will send you, if requisite, respectable 

"Yours obliged and sincerely, 


Through the autumn of 1806 Clarence and Dorothy 
kept to their decision that there should be no more 
acting, and on March 20, 1807, their last child, Amelia, 
was born. But in the spring of that year she was on 
the stage occasionally if not constantly; for in January 
she was in a new play, Something to Do, which was a 
failure, and in April she was again Widow Cheerly in 
The Soldier's Daughter; but she did not take seriously 
to it again until September, when the need for money 
had once more become pressing. 

That the elder girls did not marry was a great 
disappointment. Frances, plain, giddy and unintel- 
lectual, was a difficult problem for the mother who 
loved her children so deeply that she was prepared to 
make any sacrifice for them, and who feared that if 
she died they would be penniless. This, of course, 
should not have been, for earlier in her career she had 
saved money with the express intention, it was said, 
of dowering these girls. But since then all her earn- 
ings had been spent and her savings lent, and though 
her income was very much smaller than the Duke's, it 
is doubtless true that he had had as much advantage 
of it as she. 

A further source of trouble was her increasing tend- 
ency to stoutness, for she felt that the particular parts 

264 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

in which she was strongest would suffer from such a 
physical defect, and she made strenuous efforts to 
reduce her size. So when she began work again in 
September it was noticed that she was thinner, but 
The Satirist deprecated the fact on the plea that 
"where violent, artificial modes are adopted to 
diminish bulk the countenance is the sufferer; so with 
Mrs. Jordan, she does not look so well in the face as 
we have seen her, but by dint of exercise the tout 
ensemble is so far reduced as to make the boy's dis- 
guise not quite unnatural. She played it as usual 
with the greatest spirit, and was greeted with warm 

Through the following years many were the com- 
ments made upon Dorothy's size, yet it could not have 
been so extraordinary, for in 1813, when she was sup- 
posed to be enormous, Leslie the artist wrote, on 
seeing her in As You Like It, " I had been taught 
to expect an immensely fat woman, and she is but 
moderately so. Her face is still very fine; no print 
that I ever saw of her is much like. Her performance 
of Rosalind was, in my mind perfect, though I am 
convinced the character from its nature did not call 
forth half Mrs. Jordan's powers." 

Having started work in earnest Dorothy was in the 
theatre several times a week, and then came a sudden 
break. On Saturday, October 12, she was playing in 
the Wedding Day, and though feeling ill herself she 
had dragged Mathews through his part, for he " played 
like a man dreaming of something he did not like : 
like a canary bird singing in the dome of St. Paul's, 
so faint that he could not be understood." Dorothy 
was loudly encored in her song of " In the Dead of 
Night," and sang it through twice " as exquisitely as 

Slings and Arrows 265 

ever." " Before she had finished," said The Courier, 
"she was affected by a severe pain between the 
shoulders, which struck into her chest, and only her 
great spirits and firmness could have made her finish 
the play. Early on the Sunday morning, after cough- 
ing, a considerable quantity of blood came from her 
chest, and it was evident that she had broken a blood 
vessel. Dr. Blane took twelve ounces of blood from 
her arm by lancet and eight ounces by cupping, thus 
relieving the pain, but reducing her so low that she is 
forbidden to take anything but cold water." On the 
Monday she was much better, though the pain was 
still severe, and she was somewhat naturally seeing 
the remedy employed very weak. Those who had 
hoped to see her as Peggy that night were disap- 
pointed, and for ten days she did not appear. 

The Duke was staying at Houghton Hall, Norfolk, 
and seems not to have hastened his return unduly, for 
he did not arrive at St. James's until the following 
Saturday. Then he stayed only long enough to 
change horses before setting out for Bushy Park. 
Dorothy went for a short drive on the Friday, and on 
the Tuesday, much too soon, returned to the theatre, 
having denied that a ruptured blood vessel was the 
cause of her illness. She showed great languor on 
her appearance, but gradually recovering her spirits 
she seemed in her usual health before the end of the 
evening. The next Saturday she played Lady Racket 
in Three Weeks After Marriage to a house which was 
said to have scarcely a person of rank or fortune 
absent, and at its close she got into her carriage, 
having arranged to drive straight back to Bushy 
House with the Duke. But pain in her chest again be- 
came acute, and she went instead to her town home in 

266 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Mortimer Street (for she had by then left Somerset 
Street) and to bed, suffering from a return of the 
inflammation. The Duke also stayed in town, and 
she being better on the Monday, he took her home 
with him. Again it was denied that this new indis- 
position was a relapse, and these denials of the serious- 
ness of her illnesses indicate that Dorothy was afraid 
of being regarded as weakly, afraid that any strong 
impression should get abroad that her physical powers 
were declining; in fact, it hinted at some desperate 
need for her to keep her place in her profession. In 
any case so keen was she to make money that she was 
on the boards again in seven days, and from that time 
was acting all through the winter. 

There was some reason for her fear of finding her- 
self put upon the shelf, for many were the hints that 
the public would soon lose her, thus The Monthly 
Mirror, declaring that her appearance proclaimed her 
the genuine offspring of Sir Tunbelly Clumsy, went 
on to say 

" In her undress, when skipping and turning round, 
with her hand on her heart and exposing her shape, 
' if shape it might be called that shape had none/ we 
really beheld her with more pain than pleasure. This 
sensation probably arose from a fear that the hour is 
not far distant when she will be compelled to relinquish 
altogether this, her inimitable line/' 

But whatever might be said about her size, there 
were no murmurs about her singing, and she captivated 
the audience with " Drink to Me only with Thine 
Eyes " and " A Shepherd Once had Lost His Love." 

From the middle of December she had two or three 
weeks' holiday, spending Christmas with most of her 
children, while the Duke went on a visit to Berkeley 

Slings and Arrows 267 

Castle, taking with him George and Sophia. On their 
way back they stayed for two days at Buscot Park in 
Berkshire, and arrived home about January 15. This 
is but one evidence that far from repudiating his 
children, as Cobbett suggested, the Duke was 
thoroughly proud of them, and often took them about 
with him. Mrs. Calvert noted in her diary for i8o4, 1 
" that the Duke went to the Pavilion for the Prince's 
birthday and had two natural children with him fine 
boys. Mrs. Jordan is the mother." A year or two 
later she speaks of meeting the Duke and his eldest 
daughter out at dinner. 

Clarence was already making plans for his 
children's careers, though there are indications that 
Dorothy's solicitude for her elder and less fortunate 
children somewhat irked him. The Hanoverian boy 
who had claimed his parentage in 1790 had been 
placed in the Navy, and was under the command of 
Admiral Sir Thomas Troubridge upon the Blenheim, 
a worn-out ship, which was, however, thought good 
enough for the Commander of the East Indian Seas, 
and which foundered in a cyclone off Madagascar in 
1807 with all lives lost. William wrote to Admiral 
Collingwood in May 1808 : " Though I have lost one 
son on board the Blenheim, I have just started another 
with my old friend and shipmate Keates, and I have 
another breeding up for the quarter-deck. ... I took 
my second son to Deal, which gave me an opportunity 
of visiting the different ships there." 

This second son, who was started off from Deal to 
join Keates, was Henry, who began life on board, 
though he later became a soldier. Augustus also 
began in the Navy, only to end as a " fisher of men," 

1 An Irish Beauty of the Regency, by Mrs. Warenne Blake. 

268 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

but Adolphus was probably the one who was breeding 
up for the quarter-deck. The eldest boy, George, 
became a Cornet in 1807, and in October 1808 his 
fond father took him to Portsmouth, where he em- 
barked with his regiment, the loth Dragoons, for 
Spain. There at Corunna he became aide-de-camp to 
General Slade, and in 1809-11 he was in the Penin- 
sula with the Marquis of Londonderry, Wellington's 



" Oh, that this too, too solid flesh would melt ! " Hamlet. 
" It's well I have a husband a-coming, or i' cod, I'd marry the baker, 
I wou'd so!" Miss HOYDEN. 

DOROTHY'S work in 1808 began on January 8 with 
The Country Girl, and scattered through books and 
papers are many indications of her acting, her health, 
her dress, " blue and silver, very pretty and becoming," 
her popularity and her weak points. " On Monday we 
were charmed at Drury Lane with Mrs. Jordan in 
Three Weeks after Marriage. I admire her so much 
I could forgive the Duke of Clarence anything," wrote 
Marianne Stanhope. 1 In January Miss Berry noted 
in her diary : " Mrs. Jordan bringing out too often her 
oyster woman notes in Violante, which destroys all the 
effect of her otherwise captivating singing." And the 
succeeding month the same playgoer recorded that 
"her Nell is incomparable, but she was not in high 

" Public love in this instance is staunch, and Miss 
Peggy* on tne verge of fifty, is still able to give the 
play an irresistible charm," said another critic. Even 
the papers which commented most on Dorothy's size 
always salved their criticisms with affectionate praise. 
On May 26, for instance, when she played for Miss 
Pope's farewell benefit, The Theatrical Inquisitor re- 
marked, " This great actress should take a hint from 
the race so judiciously run by Miss Pope and begin to 

1 Letter-bag of Lady Elizabeth Spencer Stanhope. By A. M. W. Stirling. 


270 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

think of suiting her characters to her form and age 
the converse is a dangerous trial. She has outgrown 
her frocks! " 

Another journal, criticizing her performance in June, 
was somewhat muddled in style and not quite so kind 
in the following paragraph : " Mrs. Jordan's Viola and 
Beatrice were, as usual, full of the delices of genuine 
acting. Her dress in Viola cannot be described it 
need only to be seen to be felt. Her white breeches 
(small-clothes it would be unjust to call them) and 
white jacket, which, through a red net in which she 
was caught, looked behind like the tail of a short skirt, 
were very affecting to the whole house." 

And in September we read that she strongly exhibits 
the superiority of mind over matter, " for she no sooner 
opens her mouth and displays her genius than you 
forget the mortal incumbrances. Such intellectual 
powers compensate for her form it is as broad as it is 
long." But Dorothy, feeling that her best powers were 
shown in her early and most popular characters, could 
never be induced to alter either the characters or their 

On April n, 1808, Dorothy began a series of 
yearly visits to Bath which were always successful, 
acting until May 2. In one letter to the Duke from 
that town she wrote : " I should be sorry to be obliged 
to give up Bath for various reasons. I shall be glad 
when Thursday is over. I am very fickle on these 
occasions, and always grow tired of the audience before 
they seem to weary of me. Great crowds are expected 
at the theatre to-morrow my night, and, thank God, 
the last night but one. On Thursday I finish with The 
Country Girl. We are to have a very grand dinner at 
Canons, and it would make you laugh to hear the 

Dame Gossip and Dorothy 271 

manoeuvring there has been by several people to get 

After this she was again at Drury Lane, the season 
closing in June, but on the last night Dorothy was away 
because of illness, and all through the remainder of the 
year she had attacks of illness which constantly inter- 
fered with her work. Thus, early in August she was 
ill, but by the 24th was well enough to delight all the 
fashionables in the neighbourhood of Richmond, who 
made a "splendid overflow" to witness her Belinda 
in All in the Wrong. The Duke of Clarence, too, was 
ill with gout, which Dorothy described as "the old 
periodical attack." 

This summer Frederick Jones who, with Lord 
Westmeath, had started the "gentleman's theatre" 
about ten years earlier in Dublin, in rivalry with Daly 
was in London negotiating for the purchase of Drury 
Lane (a bargain which was never completed), and 
he was in and out of the theatre for a month. It 
may have been then that he persuaded Mrs. Jordan 
to engage herself to Dublin for the summer of 
1809, an engagement from which both hoped to profit 

In September, with renovated health and spirits, she 
started again at Drury Lane, where Tom Sheridan 
was now manager, and Wroughton deputy. But in 
October illness claimed her, and her absence was 
lamented in November, as the new comedy, The 
Chances, required all her vivacity to give life to a tame 
and insipid piece. 

It was not until the 28th of December that she really 
began a long spell of Acting. Yet, though at work, 
she managed to take her children to the pantomime, 
writing to the Duke, who was absent, that " The boys 

272 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

were delighted with Robinson Crusoe. I think it was 
tolerably well got up. The house was very full last 
night; the new comedy does not come out till Thurs- 
day." This comedy was Man and Wife, written by 
S. J. Arnold and put on on January 5, 1809 ; in this she 
took the part of Helen Worry, and successfully kept 
a poor play going for twenty nights. On the 2ist of 
February she was acting, and the next night the swan 
song of Drury Lane was sung in an opera, The Cir- 
cassian Bride, the theatre being totally destroyed by 
fire on the 24th. 

It may well be asked why Dorothy was so feverishly 
anxious for work, and the only answer can be that it 
was for her daughter's benefit. 

Some time in 1808 Dorothy had the pleasure per- 
haps the dubious pleasure of marrying her eldest girl 
Frances with one named Thomas Alsop, who was a 
clerk of the delivery of small arms in the Ordnance 
Office, a post soon after abolished. Frances, then in 
her twenty-sixth year, was giddy and irresponsible, 
with little of the repose of Vere de Vere, and it is open 
to wonder whether it was merely a coincidence that 
within two minutes' walk of Gyfford Lodge (which was 
given up before July 1808), and where for two years 
the elder girls had lived, a hostel stood in four acres 
of ground of whom the owner was a man named 
William Alsop. Nothing is known of Thomas Alsop, 
and he may have been the innkeeper's son. Doubtless 
Frances was promised a dowry of 10,000, as were her 
sisters. According to the agreement made between 
Dorothy and the Duke in 1791, the latter was respon- 
sible for part of this, but how much was ever paid it is 
difficult to say ; certainly the various sons-in-law never 
did receive the sums they were led to expect when they 

Dame Gossip and Dorothy 273 

married, and the nature of the settlements may be 
gathered from that made upon Dorothea, whose 
wedding was celebrated in the following March, also 
with a clerk in the Ordnance. 

In reference to this latter wedding The Gentleman's 
Magazine made a curious mistake, publishing in the 
marriage columns the two following items, one after 
the other 

" 1809. March 4th. Dorothea Maria Ford of 
Bushy Park married F. E. March, Esq., of the 
Ordnance Office, the Tower. 

" March 6th. Mr. Fitzgerald, son of Lord Henry 
Fitzgerald, to Miss Ford, daughter of Mrs. Jordan." 

In the next number, of course, a correction appeared, 
pointing out that F. E. March, Esq., and Mr. Fitz- 
gerald were one and the same person, and that Miss 
Jordan and Miss Ford were also the same, the mistake 
arising from the facts that Mr. March was the natural 
son of Lord Henry Fitzgerald, while Miss Ford was 
the natural daughter of Mrs. Jordan. The bride's 
address was given otherwhere as Park Place, St. James, 
which was the home of the newly married Frances 

There is one good thing to be said of those loose, 
bad days, when the standard of morality was lower 
than at present, and that was that the natural children 
were far better seen after by the most responsible 
parent, the father, than they are now. The men had 
no shame in such connections, regarding them as only 
to be expected, and they did very often acknowledge 
and provide for these children of irregular birth. Mrs. 
Jordan, I think, made a mistake when she entirely 

274 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

relieved Richard Ford of all responsibility for his 
children; though, on the other hand, that may have 
been one of the conditions upon which that gentleman 
insisted when he found himself superseded. 

But to return to the marriage settlement a porten- 
tous vellum document consisting of four pages, each 
about two feet square, stamped with seals worth 
4 ios., dated March 3, 1809 described in the most 
flourished of flourishing writing as 

" Settlement on the marriage of Frederick Edward 
March, Esq., with Miss Dorothea Maria Jordan/' and 
it betrays some curious things concerning the monetary 
arrangements between Dorothy and Clarence. 

The five parties to it were in the following order : 
Frederick Edward March, Dorothea Jordan of Mor- 
timer Street, Dorothea Maria Jordan, spinster, of 
Mortimer Street, H.R.H. William Henry, Duke of 
Clarence, and Thomas Alsop and William Bignall, 

By this deed Dorothy undertook to provide the sum 
of 2000 as a marriage portion, and a further sum of 
200 annually, thus making up the 10,000 she 
always intended to give each one. Of the 2000 
Dorothy had already paid one, which had been in- 
vested in the purchase of 1,484 4^. 6d. in three per 
cent, consolidated annuities. The second thousand 
was paid by a bond or obligation in writing given under 
the seal of H.R.H. the Duke of Clarence, "whereby 
His said Royal Highness, in consideration of the sum 
of 1000 heretofore advanced to him by the said 
Dorothea Jordan which he doth hereby acknowledge, 
hath, at her request, testified by his executing these 
presents, etc., etc." 

It is needless to say that when a comparatively 

Dame Gossip and Dorothy 275 

simple affair of this kinH is wrapped up in twelve or 
sixteen square feet of writing it is not altogether easy 
to get at its meaning, but the above is clear, as is also 
the fact that the Duke could not pay such a sum as 
;iooo down, but undertook to pay it in quarterly 
instalments of 62 ios., with interest at the rate of 
five per cent, per annum, this sum to be completed in 
four years from the 26th day of the following July; 
and for the better securing of this two life insurance 
policies were taken out in the Westminster Life Insur- 
ance Society in the names of the trustees, whereby the 
sum of 500 should be paid to them if the Duke died 
within two years. This document was signed in the 
presence of the lawyer, Charles H. Ware of Gray's 
Inn, by all but one of the trustees, William Bignall, 
who signed after having had it duly stamped. 

From this paper it is made evident how very true 
were the reports then current concerning the debts and 
difficulties under which the Duke was labouring. It 
also hints at one reason for the quarrels which were 
said to rise frequently between him and Dorothy. If 
she pinned him down in this way to paying her some- 
thing back on account of the money he owed her, he 
must have felt very sore, and she probably only 
exacted it by great persistency. 

It is said that in the letters from the Duke to 
Dorothy, which Mrs. Alsop threatened to publish after 
her mother's death, there was evidence that the former 
had received loans from the latter, amounting in all 
to 30,000. If this was so there can be little wonder 
when Dorothy wished to portion her daughters, and 
found herself able to do so partially only by the most 
strenuous and continuous work, that she should 
demand back some of that money which was definitely 

276 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

lent, especially as she regarded that money as put 
aside for the very purpose of portioning these girls. 

Information about quarrels not only leaked out but 
was published in some Sunday and gossiping papers, 
copies of which no longer exist, and the slanderous 
comments included her girls as well as herself. Dorothy 
was described as a match-making mamma surely no 
great crime ! only equal to the Duchess of Gordon, 
a lady of whom it was said that she went over to Paris 
in pursuit of the Duke of Bedford, whom she desired 
as a husband for one of her daughters, and triumph- 
antly brought him home to be married. There was 
also a widespread rumour that the Bushy household 
was to be broken up, even that a parting had taken 

Concerning the gossip over the marriages, Dorothy 
wrote the following letter to James Boaden, one in 
which the mother's heart speaks plainly 


" Having frequently experienced your kindness 
in assisting to do away any unfair impression, your 
candour, believe me, cannot be better employed [in 
the Press] than in the defence of three as good and 
virtuous girls as ever existed. It would be painful to 
me and unnecessary to you to mention the cruel and 
infamous reports for some time in circulation, and to 
the extent of which I was really a stranger till last 
week. To say it has made me ' sick at heart ' is saying 

" I remain, your obliged humble servant, 


In many ways this year was one of terror both to 
Clarence and to Dorothy, for on February i began the 

Dame Gossip and Dorothy 277 

Parliamentary investigation into the conduct of the 
Duke of York for wrong use of his military patronage. 
His mistress, Mary Ann Clarke, had, under his pro- 
tection, taken a great house in Gloucester Place, and 
been remarkably extravagant, keeping horses, carriages, 
a number of servants and three chefs, and all on the 
-promise of one of the Royal Dukes of an income of 
; 1 2,000 ! To a woman of her quality a promise was 
for a time as good as a fulfilment so long as there was 
credit to be obtained, but when that time had passed 
she began to feel the pressure, which she lightened by 
taking money from officers who wanted promotion; in 
plain language by using the Duke as a tool for the 
selling of commissions, and the evidence at the trial 
pointed to the fact that more than one Duke benefited 
as well as herself from the sales. 

There were eight charges against the Duke, all of 
which were decided to be not proven, though naturally 
there was no hesitation concerning the guilt of Mary 
Clarke. However, she was not upon her trial in 
actual fact, and she did not care in the least what 
people said of her, so she kept a cool courage, made 
herself look as charming as possible, and was not at all 
frightened when being examined at the bar of the 
House. She became indeed the heroine of the affair, 
being cheered in the streets on occasions"; and York, in 
spite of the finding, was the person who felt it neces- 
sary to hide his head and resign his post of Com- 
mander-in-Chief, which meant the relinquishment of 
about ;6ooo per annum. 

This affair considerably scared the King and Queen 
and all the Royal Family. It was one thing for the 
good Queen to encourage her young sons to find mis- 
tresses, or even to hunt round for such for them, with 

278 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

the kindly, motherly intention of keeping them out of 
temptation and danger ; but it was quite another matter 
when such mistresses, instead of allowing themselves 
meekly to be kicked out of the way when done with, 
tried to save their own skins by independent action. 
Mrs. Fitzherbert had been tiresome in a dignified 
manner, but then she made so much of the marriage 
ceremony, and was so respectably connected as well 
as strong-minded, that the Royal parents grudgingly 
accepted her at her own valuation. 

They had, however, no love for Dorothy, who had 
been most inconsiderate in having so many children, 
a matter which much annoyed them as well as John 
Bull, and as they feared that composite person they 
began to wish that she could be swept out of their 
existence, but they found it hard to invent a method of 
getting rid of her. Clarence himself was undoubtedly 
distressed, as indeed were all the brothers, for they 
knew themselves to be sinners in money affairs, and 
they never could tell when some meddlesome paper 
would not turn into a bludgeon for their chastisement. 

Thus this affair of Mary Clarke was in itself enough 
to cause irritable temper at Bushy House, and when 
later that clever dame had the Duke of York's letters 
to her printed in a neat volume and much advertised, 
though they were never published, it was confusion 
worse confounded. Clarence had written hundreds of 
letters to Dorothy, letters which would be a revela- 
tion of many hidden things could we but see them 
now, and though in his heart he must have known 
that she would never use them as a weapon against 
him, yet he was, when angry, inclined to say rash 
things. So the irritation deepened and the rumours 

Dame Gossip and Dorothy 279 

There was a curious but extraneous cause for royal 
alarm this year, and it lay in the many conflagrations 
of public buildings, which was put down to incendiar- 
ism, to the growth of republican ideals caught from 
France, and to a desire to degrade the Royal Family. 
Covent Garden Theatre was the first to be destroyed, 
September 20, 1808; in January 1809 the whole of the 
east wing and the apartments occupied by the King 
and Queen at St. James's Palace were burned down, 
the fire originating close to the Duke of Cambridge's 
rooms. The next month the New Sessions House, 
Westminster, was in flames; Drury Lane Theatre was 
burnt out in three hours ; a fire occurred at Kensington 
Palace ; and the gloom was deepened in the first week 
of March by a report that Hampton Court Palace had 
been burnt down, and a rumour again false that a 
train of gunpowder had been found at the King's 
Theatre. Though reasons were hazarded for one or 
two of the fires, a panic seized upon the public, and it 
was declared that after the burning of St. James's 
Palace a letter was received by the Prince of Wales, 
telling him that he would shortly hear of the destruc- 
tion of other public buildings; and that after the 
fire at Drury Lane the Prince showed this letter to 

Thus the Royal Family were in a terrible state of 
nerves, and the princes felt that it behoved them to 
walk warily, to reform their evil ways and to curry 
favour with their people, among whom were some who, 
not being too enlightened about the meaning of words, 
were loudly accusing Clarence of living in open 

The burning of Drury Lane merits more than a 
mere mention herej as it marked a distinct epoch in 

280 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Dorothy's life. It had been her theatrical home for 
nearly a quarter of a century, and now in February 
1809 she ended her career there with a flourish, turning 
a somewhat poor play into a great success, and so say- 
ing adieu to the scene of her greatest triumphs. For 
in the new Drury Lane which was opened in 1813 she 
only acted once. 

It was widely declared that this theatre fire was 
caused by wilful incendiarism, as the theatre had been 
closed that day, though others contended that plumbers 
had made an exceptionally big fire at which to melt 
lead, and had left the fire burning. It was not, how- 
ever, until after eleven at night that the flames were 
seen, and in a few minutes they burst out in every 
direction. Little was saved beyond some theatrical 
books. Dorothy was one of the greatest losers, as 
she kept a large number of dresses and other stage 
property there ; but the thing that she valued most 
her bureau was rescued by the bravery and exertion 
of a literary gentleman named Kent, "who smashed 
in the door of her dressing-room and secured it. What 
it contained, however, remains a secret." 

The building of this theatre had cost 129,000, there 
were debts on it amounting to 300,000, and the in- 
surance was only for the small sum of 35,000, so 
Sheridan's situation was really desperate, though it is 
reported that during the fire he went to the Piazza 
Coffee House, and upon a friencl remarking his 
philosophic calm, he replied, " Surely a man may drink 
a glass of wine at his own fireside." 

The actors were also in despair, but were some- 
what relieved by a subscription and a benefit perform- 
ance at the Opera House, to which Dorothy gave her 
services. Taylor, the lessee of the Opera House, 

Dame Gossip and Dorothy 281 

offered his theatre to the company free for three nights, 
and, by being their own door-keepers, the actors took 
2,200. After which, until April, when they went to 
the Lyceum, the Drury Lane company acted several 
times a week at the Opera House ; but Dorothy did not 
join them. 

Rumour asserted that a serious and violent quarrel 
occurred between herself and the Prince on the night 
of the conflagration, and it is not unlikely, seeing that 
the marriage settlement of her daughter Dorothea 
must then have been under discussion. Whether there 
was a quarrel or not, Boaden declares that she with- 
drew from all permanent engagements from that time, 
" it not being the wish of her illustrious friend that she 
should continue in the profession of which she was so 
great an ornament." A statement which is partly 
borne out by one of the following letters, obviously 
written to Boaden, and touching upon the defamatory 
strictures upon her daughters as well as upon her 
quarrels with the Duke. The latter, with her usual 
large-heartedness and pride, she denies in toto, and 
yet there are so many hints of the trouble, so much 
evidence of it, that it is not possible to accept literally 
what she says. It must also be remembered that she 
considered Boaden as the representative of the Press, 
and that she wrote to him, in answer to an invita- 
tion from him, that which she wished the world to 


" I should be very ungrateful indeed if I could 
for a moment consider as an enemy one from whom I 
have received very decided proofs of kindness and 
attention. I love candour and truth on all occasions, 

282 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

and the frankness with which you speak of my profes- 
sional merits stamps a value on your opinion of them, 
and which (entre nous) I really believe is quite as much 
as they deserve ; but we do not feel inclined to quarrel 
with the world for thinking better of us than we 

" I do not know how to thank you for the humanity 
with which you seem to enter into my feelings; they 
are indeed very acute, and, did you know the three 
incomparable and truly amiable objects of my anxiety, 
you would not be inclined to withdraw your sympathy. 

" With regard to the report of my quarrel with the 
Duke, every day of our past and present life must give 
the lie to it. He is an example for half the husbands 
and fathers in the world, the best of masters, and the 
most firm and generous of friends. I will in a day or 
two avail myself of your kind offer to contradict those 
odious and truly wicked reports. I am so ill that I can 
do nothing myself, but must wait for the assistance of 
a good and clever friend who is at present out of the 
way, and who, if the truth is not quite scared out of 
the world, will endeavour to do away the ill impres- 
sions those reports were meant to make. In the 
meantime accept my thanks, and believe me, 

' Yours truly, 


The second letter, on the same point and written 
to the same person, was dated from Bushy House on 
March 27, 1809, and runs 

" When I last did myself the pleasure of writing to 
you I mentioned that I waited for the assistance of a 
friend, who was not just then in the way, to contradict 

Dame Gossip and Dorothy 283 

the cruel and defamous reports that were then in cir- 
culation ; but on my application to him (perhaps he was 
right), he said that what had been done had every good 
effect that could possibly be expected or wished for, 
and that a renewal of the subject might do more harm 
than good. Of this I should like to have your opinion 
when you have read the enclosed. I need not add 
that you will set the author down for a very partial 
friend indeed. In obedience to the Duke's wishes, I 
have withdrawn myself for the present or at least 
till there is a theatre royal for me to appear in. Mr. 
March and Mr. Alsop, the two gentlemen to whom 
my daughters are married, will do themselves the 
pleasure of leaving their cards at your door next 

" I ever am, Sir, 

' Your obliged, humble servant, 


" P.S. I am to play to-morrow week at the Opera 
House ; and, as it is likely to be my last night, it would 
not be amiss to have it ' insinuated ' into the boxes." 

Boaden comments upon this last letter that the 
intended visits of Alsop and March were, " I know 
never made." 

Writing from memory long after the events, Boaden 
is at times curiously misleading, for he declares that 
Dorothy had been away from Drury Lane for two 
seasons, and " now returned only to suffer in its fall." 
As a matter of fact she had been acting through those 
two seasons perhaps more persistently than at any 
other time of her life. 

In one of the letters quoted Dorothy spoke of some- 
thing having been done to stop the slanders, and the 

284 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

method adopted by the clever friend is indicated in a 
paragraph from The Morning Post of March 7, 1809, 
' The infamous lies for some time past in circulation 
respecting Mrs. Jordan and her unoffending and inno- 
cent family are likely to have an end ; for as Sheridan 
says in The School for Scandal, ' If the forger of the 
lie is not to be found, the injured parties should imme- 
diately fix on some of the endorsers.' This method 
will be pursued, and, it is supposed, will be the means 
of shutting up the mouths of some very infamous, base 
and malignant characters." And it really seems to 
have had some effect in putting an end to the noxious 

That Dorothy withdrew from her profession is 
emphatically stated by Sir Jonah Barrington, who 
asserts that he frequently heard her solicited to retire 
(he does not say by whom, but leaves it for inference 
that it was the Duke), and adds that she was urged to 
forego all further emoluments from its pursuit, and 
" this single fact gives the contradiction direct to the 
reports which I should feel it improper even to allude 
to further," (That the Duke took the money she 

Both Barrington and Boaden were tremendously 
affected by the honour which Royalty did them by 
knowing them, and Barrington's chief care was to 
whitewash the Duke as far as lay in his power. Boaden 
knew Dorothy far better by correspondence than by 
contact, and some of his information he took directly 
from Barrington, thus repeating the same mistakes. 

As a matter of fact, at this time the Duke was far 
too dependent upon Dorothy's earnings for him to 
wish her to withdraw from the stage, and he was so 
keen upon her acting that he almost always arranged 

Dame Gossip and Dorothy 285 

her provincial tours for her with great care, and was 
particularly anxious to secure her the best terms 

That she did not at the time act with the Drury Lane 
company is to be explained by the fact that with them 
she could not possibly have received the salary which 
would have made it worth her while, and that a week 
in a country town was equal in value to a month in 

Dorothy's facility in letter writing has already been 
mentioned, and it is an extraordinary thing, due to the 
method or want of method of the Duke of Clarence, 
that hundreds of her letters to him are still in exist- 
ence. In June 1906 as many as 335 letters, written 
between 1808 and 1810, were sold at Sotheby's for 
333> being described as "the property of a lady." 
These were written from London, Liverpool, Man- 
chester, Wakefieldj Bath, Cheltenham, York, 
Leicester, Dublin and other places, giving a minute 
description of her theatrical life and experiences. A 
casket of her letters was also recently offered for sale 
in London. 

Many valuable letters by her are also in the private 
collection of Mr. A. M. Broadley. In 1899 six of her 
letters to her eldest son were sold in the Wright sale, 
fetching such sums as 14 15^. and 13 i$s. each, 
and these were later sold at considerably advanced 
prices. The collection sold at Sotheby's had been 
found at Bushy Park by Queen Adelaide, who, with 
her usual kindliness, handed them to Lord Frederick 
Fitzclarence. How they found their way to the sale- 
room is not known. In one of the envelopes an old 
Bank of England note for 2 was discovered, and I 
am assured by the owner of this batch of letters that 

286 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

nearly every one of them contained money, while her 
weariness of acting and her desire to give up her 
profession were constantly expressed. 

Here is first-hand evidence, not only that the Duke 
could not or would not let her have the rest which she 
so thoroughly deserved, but that he did the thing that 
most of her biographers emphatically some scornfully 
deny : he took every advantage of her labours. 
Thus, until she was fifty, instead of living a pleasant, 
luxurious life of splendid guilt, and receiving 1000 
a year for her personal needs, she was burdened with 
the responsibility of adding what she could to the 
Duke's household expenses. There have been many 
controversies over this point, which these letters settle 
once for all. 

That there was no intention in the mind of the Duke 
that Dorothy should leave the stage is proved by the 
fact that on Monday, April 10, 1809, Dorothy left 
London to go on a tour to Bristol and Bath a tour 
which, no doubt, the Duke arranged for her with his 
usual care. She took one daughter probably Lucy 
with her, and soon found that the slanders had not only 
preceded her, but had formed so excellent an advertise- 
ment for her as to produce large receipts. From that 
town she wrote to Boaden a letter which gives an echo 
of her weariness of the stage, tells of her success of the 
moment and of the gossip which surrounded her. It 
is really a very interesting letter, and her statement 
that she started life at fourteen gives weight to the 
report that she began life in a milliner's shop. She 
also speaks of brothers and sisters, which shows that 
she had more than one sister, and alludes to the 
favours probably of Press announcements which 
Boaden has granted her. 

Dame Gossip and Dorothy 287 

"Bath, Sunday, April 22, 1809. 


" I should be more insensible than my heart 
tells me I am if I did not experience much gratification 
from your very kind and friendly letters friendly 
they must be, for I am ever asking favours of you, and 
feel it impossible that I can ever return them. 

" My professional success through life has, indeed, 
been most extraordinary, and, consequently, attended 
with great emolument. But from my first starting in 
life, at the early age of fourteen, I have always had a 
large family to support. My mother was a duty. But 
on brothers and sisters I have lavished more money 
than can be supposed, and more, I am sorry to say, 
than I can well justify to those who have a stronger 
and prior claim to my exertions. With regard to 
myself (as much depends on our ideas of riches), I 
have certainly enough, but this is too selfish a con- 
sideration to weigh one moment against what I consider 
to be duty ; I am quite tired of the profession. I have 
lost those great excitements, vanity and emulation. 
The first has been amply gratified, and the last I see 
no occasion for; but still, without these it is a mere 
money-getting drudgery. 

" The enthusiasm of the good people here is really 
ridiculous, but it brings grist to the mill, and I shall, 
notwithstanding the great drawback of unsettled 
weather, clear, between this place and Bristol, from 
800 to 900. 

" Though I very seldom go out when from home, 
I was tempted by my dear girl to go to a fashionable 
library to read the papers, and, not being known, was 
entertained by some ladies with a most pathetic de- 
scription of the parting between me and the Duke ! 

288 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

My very dress was described, and the whole conversa- 
tion accurately repeated ! Unfortunately for the 
-party, a lady came in who immediately addressed me 
by name, which threw them into the most ridiculous 
and (I conceive) the most unpleasant embarrassment 
imaginable. In pity to them, I left the place imme- 
diately, and flattered myself that I did not show any 
disgust or ill-nature on the occasion. 

" The last favour I asked of you was not to gratify 

my own vanity, but my best friends' ; who, in spite of 

the world, are, as I can with truth assure you, as much 

interested about me as they were seventeen years ago. 

" Believe me ever your truly obliged 


" P.S. I fear I have tired you with my scrawl/' 

Her engagement at Bristol was for Monday, April 
10, and her six or seven nights at Bath would extend 
over two or three weeks, as she now only acted two or 
three nights a week, and thus she did not get home 
again until the end of the month, the Bath verdict upon 
her being that she had never acted better in her life. 



" To comic Jordan's laughing eye, 

The tear of pity stole ; 
But in revenge she drew a sigh, 
From each spectator's soul." 


" It is by the ignorant that worth is most usually injured. It is by 
those who know her not that Mrs. Jordan is discredited. Those who do 
know her, never can know enough of her good qualities, her conciliatory 
temper, her engaging manners, her readiness to oblige, and her willing- 
ness to assist, the open generosity of her hand, the superior liberality of 
her mind." Contemporary Criticism. 

IF Dorothy was agitated about her girls, she now 
began to know what it meant to have a boy in danger; 
for while she and her children were preparing for 
Christmas in 1808, her son George was tramping with 
Sir John Moore's army to Corunna, and taking part in 
the battle of that name. Some time in February he 
was home again, and his coming brought joy to his 
parents, the Duke writing to his sister Amelia, who 
took an affectionate interest in his children, announcing 
his return : " I am happy to inform you that George 
arrived last night, in high health and spirits, after 
having established a perfect character with all ranks in 
our army. General Stewart, who certainly on one 
occasion saved his life, speaks of my son in such terms 
of commendation, that unless writing to you I would 
not mention the circumstances. Indeed, in the event 
of the General going again he told me he would rather 
have George than any other for his aide-de-camp." 

In April, George did go again to the Peninsula, and 
in July was fighting in the Battle of Talavera, when a 
T 289 

2 90 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

splinter of a shell grazed his thigh and knee, but did no 
severe damage. It was concerning him and his ex- 
ploits that Dorothy wrote to Boaden while she was in 
Ireland, incidentally indicating the domesticity of 
her home, while hinting at Boaden's press services. 
For in June 1809, Dorothy with her daughter Lucy 
and Kemble went to Dublin, where they proved 
equally popular. What terms Kemble made is not 
known, probably ;ioo a night, for he was said to leave 
the Irish capital with 1500 in his pocket. Dorothy's 
arrangement was for half the receipts, one which left 
plenty of opportunity for evasion an opportunity 
which seems to have been liberally taken, as though the 
house was crowded when she played, the takings were 
always reported as small. 

Dublin, Sunday, June i8th, 1809. 


" I had left Bushy for this place before the 
arrival of your letter. That you would enter into my 
feelings respecting my dear boy, I was convinced, 
when I sent you the ' extract ' ; and as you rightly 
supposed, only meant it for your own perusal; for, 
however gratifying it might be to my feeling, to see any 
testimonial of his good conduct before the world, I 
have reason to believe that he would be very angry 
with me if he thought I had made it -public. I only 
mention this to show you that he is an unassuming, 
modest boy ; so much so, that we never get him to speak 
of the business at Corunna, where he was himself 
concerned; but the accounts of him from every other 
quarter, were, indeed, most gratifying. 

:f With regard to myself, I have not much to say; the 
audience are, of course, very kind, and my reception 
was most brilliant. But entre nous, I do not think I 

Toil and Trouble 291 

shall make as much money as I expected. With every 
good wish, I remain, Dear sir, Your most obliged, 
Humble Servant, 


The visit promised well, and might have gone well 
but that Jones the manager, and Crampton, probably 
the stage manager, appeared to imagine that such a 
person as Dorothy could carry the whole comedy on 
her own shoulders, and needed no particular support 
from other actors. The company was a poor one, as 
Barrington says, " many of the performers were below 
mediocrity. One was forgetful another drunk. I 
confess I never myself saw such a crew." Boaden 
went further, saying that they were unable to give cues, 
and knew nothing of stage business. Jones himself 
is accused of disrespect to Dorothy, he being probably 
actuated by a belief in the scandals which had made 
her so miserable earlier in the year. 

Peggy was her introduction on Wednesday, June 14, 
and the next night she played Lady Teazle to the 
Charles Surface of an actor named Dwyer, from 
Edinburgh. The Saturday was regarded as an 
especial performance, being under the patronage of 
the Duke and Duchess of Richmond, and then she 
played Beatrice to Dwyer's Benedick. Twice she was 
Bizarre in The Inconstant, a play new to Dwyer, and 
in which, on both occasions, he disgraced himself, for 
he not only had not troubled to learn his part, but on 
June 27 he was certainly drunk, and probably on other 
evenings too. That night he broke down hopelessly, 
and Dorothy did her best to prompt him, until at last 
she lost patience. Upon this, Dwyer appealed to the 
audience, declaring that he played the part at short 

292 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

notice to please Mrs. Jordan; and then " an uncommon 
clamour instantly ensued, and the remainder of the 
play was completely destroyed," says the Freeman's 

Dorothy naturally refused to act again with Dwyer, 
and finished her term there without realizing that 
anything else would occur. Dwyer, however, had lost 
the chance of any further engagement in Dublin, and 
his reputation had suffered, which he could not pass 

Socially, Dorothy seems to have been a success, 
having invitations poured upon her; Harrington does 
not fail to mention that he himself met her at various 
houses, and had her at his own. He says, though, that 
people who expected to hear wit dropping from her lips 
every time she spoke were disappointed, as in society 
she was quiet, " almost reserved," and " the performer 
was wholly merged in the gentlewoman." 

As far as can be traced this was Barrington's intro- 
duction to Mrs. Jordan, and he ran the friendship 
vigorously. But in his sketches he would have the 
world believe that he had known her long and inti- 
mately. He talks of "her last visit to the Irish 
capital," "when last in Dublin," " I once accompanied 
Mrs. Jordan to the Green Room at Liverpool," " I have 
seen her on a cruise, that is, at a provincial theatre, 
having gone over once from Dublin for that purpose ; " 
etc. "I have seen this accomplished woman in the 
midst of one of the finest families in England, sur- 
rounded by splendour, beloved, respected, and treated 
with all the deference paid to a member of high society. 
I have had the gratification of knowing intimately that 
amiable woman and justly celebrated performer. Her 
public talents are recorded, her private merits are 

Toil and Trouble 293 

known to few. I enjoyed a portion of her confidence 
on several very particular subjects, and had full 
opportunity of appreciating her character." And in 
another paragraph he asserts : " I chanced to acquire 
the honour of a very favourable introduction to His 
Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence, who became 
the efficient friend of me and my family not with that 
high and frigid mien which so often renders ungra- 
cious the favours of authorities in the British Govern- 
ment, but with the frankness and sincerity of a prince. 
He received and educated my only son as his own, and 
sent him, as Lieutenant of the 5th Dragoon Guards, 
to make his campaign in the Peninsula." 

As a matter of fact, Barrington saw Dorothy Bland 
as a girl, on her first introduction to the Irish stage, and 
his next meeting with her was on her last, it is true, but 
only other visit there. Then he paid strong court to 
her, became her champion, and by her means gained 
an introduction to the Duke. With Dorothy he 
achieved a definite end, for she appears to have invited 
young Edward Barrington to go back with her to 
Bushy Park on a visit, which ended in his being sent 
by the Duke to the Military College at Marlow, where 
George Fitzclarence had been educated. Barrington 
also struck up a friendship with Lucy Ford, as is 
shown by various remarks in letters. 

Dorothy had arranged to take her leave of Dublin 
on Monday, July 3, but probably stayed a few days 
longer, as she did not arrive at Bushy until a week 
later. There she found a great disappointment await- 
ing her, which caused the announcement of her arrival 
to Barrington to be of a somewhat agitated kind. 

" My dear Sir, I have returned here. But, alas ! the 
happiness I had promised myself has met a cruel 

294 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

check at finding the good Duke very unwell. You can 
scarcely conceive my misery at the cause of such a 
disappointment; but there is every appearance of a 
favourable result not being very distant; 'tis his old 
periodical attack [asthma followed by gout], but not 
near so severe as I have seen it ... I shall have 
neither head nor nerves to write, or even to think, till 
I am able to contribute to your pleasure, by announcing 
my own happiness and his recovery." 

The Duke was sufficiently recovered to go down to 
Brighton to help to celebrate his eldest brother's 
birthday at the beginning of August, and Dorothy was 
alone when the news of Talavera filtered through. 
Concerning this she wrote to some sympathetic friend, 
perhaps Boaden, as he possessed the letter 

" Bushy, Thursday, August I7th, 1809. 

"I am very vain, but still I have judgment enough 
not to be fond of doing that which I know I do 
very ill. Still, I feel pleasure in writing to you who 
so kindly enter into all my feelings. You may easily 
guess what they were last Monday night, when I heard 
the account of the Battle of Talavera. Five thousand 
killed ! the Duke at Brighton ! I went to bed, but not 
to sleep. 

' The Duke set out at five o'clock on the Tuesday, 
to be the first to relieve me from my misery. I am 
mentally relieved ; but it has torn my nerves to pieces. 
I have five boys, and must look forward to a life of 
constant anxiety and suspense. I am at present very 
ill Excuse this hasty scrawl, and believe me, Your 
ever obliged, 


She had not been long at home when news reached 

Toil and Trouble 295 

her of an action for libel Dwyer intended to take 
against a man named Corri sometimes given as 
Conolly who was associated with The Dublin 
Satirist, and the whole matter took on the aspect of a 
new scandal, in which the minor press delighted. One 
cause being that, among the old acquaintances whom 
Dorothy found in Dublin was an actor named Barratt, 
who had been in the theatre when she, as Dolly 
Francis, uttered her first laugh on the stage. When he, 
old and poor, made himself known to her she gave 
him assistance with her accustomed generosity. The 
counsel for Dwyer, a man named Gould, twisted this 
natural incident into something unclean and bad, 
blackening her character as much as possible; for 
Barrington, who joined in the fray, found that part of 
Gould's cross-examining consisted of asking questions 
" highly improper to that lady, but he (Gould) took care 
not to go too far with me when I was -present a mono- 
syllable or two I found quite sufficient to check the 
exuberance of ' my learned friend/ ' 

Barrington kept Dorothy posted up in the matter, as 
is seen by her letter to him; and some allusions were 
made in the English press. 

"Bushy House, Wednesday. 

" Not having the least suspicion of the busi- 
ness in Dublin, it shocked and grieved me very much; 
not only on my own account; but I regret that I should 
have been the involuntary cause of anything painful to 
you, or to your amiable family. But of Mr. Jones I 
can think anything; and I beg you will do me the 
justice to believe that my feelings are not selfish. 
Why, indeed, should I expect to escape their infamous 
calumnies? Truth, however, will force its way, and 

296 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

justice exterminate that nest of vipers. I wanted 
nothing from Mr. Crampton's generosity; but I had a 
claim on his justice, his honour. 

" During the two representations of the Inconstant, I 
represented to him the state Mr. Dwyer was in, and 
implored him, out of respect to the audience, if not 
in pity to my terrors, to change the play. As to the 
libel on Mr. Dwyer, charged to me by Mr. Gould, I 
never, directly or indirectly, by words or by writing, 
demeaned myself by interfering, in the most remote 
degree, with so wretched a concern. I knew no editor, 
I read no newspapers, while in Dublin. The charge is 
false and libellous on me, published, I presume, 
through Mr. Gould's assistance. Under that view of 
the case he will feel himself rather unpleasantly cir- 
cumstanced, should I call upon him either to prove or 
disavow his assertions. To be introduced in any way 
into such a business shocks and grieves me ; he might 
have pleaded for his companions without calumniating 
me; but, for the present, I shall drop an irksome 
subject, which has already given me more than 
ordinary uneasiness. 

" Yours, etc., 


The Monthly Mirror, commenting on the incident, 
added : " Some of the papers state that there was a 
fracas between Mrs. Jordan and another performer 
at the Dublin theatre. There was no fracas; but the 
fact is Mr. Dwyer behaved improperly on the stage, 
and the manager very properly withdrew him during 
the remainder of Mrs. Jordan's performances there. 
If Mr. Dwyer will send on a relation of the story as 
he tells it, it shall be inserted." An invitation which 
Mr. Dwyer did not accept. 

Toil and Trouble 297 

Judgment was not given in this case until February 
1810, the verdict being that Dwyer was to receive 200 
damages from Corri for the publication of strictures 
upon his conduct in appealing to the audience against 
a rebuke given him by Mrs. Jordan for his acting, in 
consequence of which he had lost the benefit of his 
employment by the managers of the Dublin and 
Galway theatres. With this ,200 Dwyer went to 
America, " where he was much admired." 

Beginning September 18, 1809, Dorothy, taking 
Frances Alsop with her, made a north-westerly tour, 
acting at Liverpool, Chester and Leicester, and clear- 
ing about 1200, a proof, said The Sun, "that 
theatrical judgment is not confined to the metropolis." 
It was seven years since she had last been to Liverpool, 
and she had changed much in that time, for life had 
dealt hardly with her of late, she had had much to 
endure, and she knew that however brave and cheer- 
ful the accounts of her domestic happiness given to her 
friends that happiness, if not entirely doomed, was 
slowly eluding her; she knew that Clarence could 
never really stand out against the Royal wishes, and 
against his own monetary difficulties. So at Liverpool 
it was remarked that that laugh which had been so 
essential to her well-being was rarely heard in private, 
Barrington, who went over from Dublin to see her act 
for a few nights, says that Mrs. Alsop and "her old 
maid who assiduously attended her," would go to the 
Green Room with her, she being languid and depressed. 
Yet it seemed that the moment her feet touched the 
boards, her spirits rose, her voice rang clear, and her 
ready laugh dispelled every symptom of depression. 

Her " cruise " over, Dorothy wrote to Barrington in 

298 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

" My dear Sir, I returned here on the ;th inst., after 
a very fatiguing, though very prosperous cruise of five 
weeks, and found all as well as I could wish. Your 
Edward left us this morning; I found him improved in 
everything. I never saw the Duke enjoy anything 
more than the poultry you sent us ; they were delicious. 
He desires me to offer his best regards to yourself and 
your ladies. Lucy is gone on a visit to Lady de Roos." 

A little later she wrote : " I cannot resist the pleasure 
of informing you that your dear boy has not only 
passed, but passed with great credit, at the Military 
College. It gives us all the highest satisfaction. My 
two beloved boys are now at home; they have both 
gone to South Hill to see your Edward. We shall 
have a full and merry house at Christmas; 'tis what 
the dear Duke delights in. A happier set, when 
altogether, I believe never existed. The ill-natured 
parts of the world never can enjoy the tranquil 
pleasures of domestic happiness. I have made two 
most lucrative trips since I saw you. Atkinson came 
to see me at Liverpool : quite as poetical as ever." 

In a further letter, early in 1810, announcing a 
return from Maidenhead, where the Duke had a small 
house, she describes how well Edward looks in his 
uniform, and adds 

" I am sure you will be pleased to hear that your 
young friend Lucy is about to be married, much to my 
satisfaction, to Colonel Hawker of the i4th Dragoons : 
he is a most excellent man, and has a very good private 
property : she will make the best of wives a better 
girl never lived : it makes me quite happy, and I intend 
to give her the value of 10,000." 

The various allusions in these letters to Liverpool, 
to her boys being at home, and to Lucy's engagement, 

Toil and Trouble 299 

date them all as being written within eight months of 
the Dublin visit, in spite of the wily Barrington's 
insinuating way of trying to make us believe that he 
was a long-tried friend of the family. That gentleman 
had done what he had angled for, he had got a free 
education with further prospects for his son, and he 
paid for it by writing a most fulsome panegyric upon 
the Duke of Clarence in his Recollections; asserting 
that to the last hour of his life the Duke's solicitude 
for Dorothy was undiminished. If this was truly so, 
most folks would agree that his Royal solicitude was 
a most undesirable thing. " He was incapable of 
unkindness to Mrs. Jordan ... he begged her to 
leave the stage, but, infatuated with attachment to 
theatrical pursuits," she continued to act; "she re- 
mained, to the very moment of her death, in full 
possession of all the means of comfort nay, if she 
chose it, of luxury and splendour." And he finishes 
his absurd and untrue tirade by saying grandiloquently 
of her miserable stay in France, "as she (Dorothy) 
wished, during her residence in France, to be totally 
retired, she took no suite." 

Of the visit to Chester, Ryley, an old actor who, as 
The Itinerant, wrote nine volumes of reminiscences, 
gives an anecdote which, if long and oft-quoted, is 
interesting for its further proof of Dorothy's kindness 
of heart. The old man prefaced his story by the 

"Those who, like me, have had the pleasure of 
being on terms of friendly intimacy with that unri- 
valled actress, equally a credit to her profession and 
an honour to human nature, will corroborate my testi- 
mony in asserting that, in addition to her many other 
qualities she possessed a heart sensible of the most 

300 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

tender and humane emotions, called into instant action 
by the least approach of misery or distress." 

Then comes this relation : " During her short stay 
at Chester, where she had been performing, her 
washerwoman, a widow with three small children, was, 
by a merciless creditor, thrown into prison; a small 
debt of about forty shillings was increased, by law 
expenses, to eight pounds. As soon as Mrs. Jordan 
heard of the circumstance, she sent for the attorney, 
paid him the demand, and observed, with as much 
severity as her good-natured countenance could 
assume, ' You lawyers are certainly infernal spirits, 
allowed on earth to make poor mortals miserable.' 
The attorney, however, pocketed the affront, and with 
a low bow made his exit. 

" On the afternoon of the same day the poor woman 
was liberated; as Mrs. Jordan was taking her usual 
walk with her servant, the widow, with her children, 
followed her, and just as she had taken shelter from a 
shower of rain in a kind of porch, dropped on her 
knees and with grateful emotion, exclaimed, ' God for 
ever bless you, Madam ! You have saved me and my 
children from ruin. 5 The children, beholding their 
mother's tears, added, by their cries to the affecting 
scene, which a sensitive mind could not behold but 
with strong feelings of sympathy. The natural liveli- 
ness of Mrs. Jordan's disposition was not easily 
damped by sorrowful scenes; however, although she 
strove to hide it, the tear of feeling stole down her 
cheek, and stooping to kiss the children, she slipped 
a pound note into the mother's hand, and in her usual 
playful manner, replied, ' There, there ; now it's all 
over ; go, good woman, God bless you ! don't say 
another word.' The grateful creature would have 

Toil and Trouble 301 

replied but her benefactress insisted on her silence and 

" It happened that another person had taken shelter 
under the porch, and witnessed the whole of this inter- 
esting scene, who, as soon as Mrs. Jordan observed 
him, came forward, and he, holding out his hand, 
exclaimed with a deep sigh, ' Lady, pardon the free- 
dom of a stranger; but would to the Lord the world 
were all like thee ! ' The figure of this man bespoke 
his calling; his countenance was pale; and a suit of 
sable, rather the worse for wear, covered his tall and 
spare person. The penetrating eye of Thalia's 
favourite votary soon developed his character and 
profession, and, with her wonted good humour, 
retreating a few paces she replied, ' No, I won't shake 
hands with you.' ' Why ? ' ' Because you are a 
Methodist preacher, and when you know who I am, 
you'll send me to the devil ! ' 

1 The Lord forbid ! I am, as you say, a preacher 
of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who tells us to clothe the 
naked, feed the hungry, and relieve the distressed ; and 
do you think I can behold a sister fulfil the commands 
of my Great Master, without feeling that spiritual 
attachment which leads me to break through worldly 
customs, and offer you the hand of friendship and 
brotherly love ? ' 

' Well, well, you are a good old soul, I dare say 
but I I don't like fanatics ; and you'll not like me 
when I tell you who I am.' ' I hope I shall.' ' Well, 
then ; I tell you I am a player.' The preacher sighed. 
4 Yes, I am a player ; and you must have heard of me ; 
Mrs. Jordan is my name.' After a short pause he 
again extended his hand, and with a complaisant 
countenance replied, ' The Lord bless thee, whoever 

302 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

thou art ; His goodness is unlimited. He has bestowed 
on you a large portion of His spirit; and as to thy 
calling, if thy soul upbraid thee not, the Lord forbid 
that I should.' 

' Thus reconciled, and the rain having abated, they 
left the porch together; the offer of his arm was 
accepted ; and the female Roscius of Comedy, and the 
disciple of John Wesley proceeded arm in arm to the 
door of Mrs. Jordan's dwelling. At parting, the 
preacher shook hands with her, saying, * Fare thee 
well, Sister ; I know not what the principles of people 
of thy calling may be; thou art the first I ever con- 
versed with; but if their benevolent practices equal 
thine, I hope and trust, at the great day, the 
Almighty God will say to each, " Thy sins are forgiven 

Colonel Hawker of the i4th Dragoons was a 
person of considerable interest to Dorothy early in the 
year 1810, for he was going to marry her daughter 
Lucy. He was not a young man, being about fifty at 
the time, a widower whose first wife had died the 
preceding May, and the father of a grown-up daughter, 
who was to be married during the following year. He 
was aide-de-camp to the King, and had been raised to 
the rank of Colonel in November 1809. He was also a 
friend of the Prince of Wales and of Clarence, and so 
had opportunities of meeting Lucy frequently. It must 
be noted that the girl had many friends in aristocratic 
circles, and among her mother's relatives, and was not 
in the least leading the secluded vicariously penitent 
life of a child of shame, as good Victorians later would 
have thought the correct thing. Hawker's daughter 
was a visitor in the Clarence household, and helped to 
make Lucy's path smooth. 

Toil and Trouble 303 

To give this daughter a standing independent of 
herself, Dorothy took for her a house named the 
Priory at Sydenham, and it was probably thence the 
week before the wedding that the following letter was 
addressed to the Duke 

" There was a mistake in the order for the carriage 
which is the reason of its coming down so late. I saw 
Hawker last night, who is better, and will dine with 
you if you have no objection. The two beautiful Birds 
are come, and I shall be at a loss how to keep them, 
as their present cage is too small ; however, I must keep 
them here till Saturday, when I wish you would make 
it convenient to send the carman for the large cage, 
which is just the thing for them. Henry is very well 
and very happy. 

" Miss Hawker will return to-morrow with Sophy ; 
love to all, I shall be very glad when this week is over. 

" God Bless you all, 

"D. J. 

" I don't know whether you enclosed me this letter 
from George or not." 

So on April 30, 1810, Samuel Hawker was married 
to Lucy Ford in the presence of Dorothea Jordan, 
Sophia Fitzclarence, Andrew Nixon, and Henry 
Edward Fitzclarence. 

It is curious, after the stories of mystery about 
Dorothy's birth, parentage, and death, to find that 
there were no mysteries, only commonplace facts, 
covered with the dust of time, which no one seems to 
have taken the trouble to disturb. She had a circle 
of relatives with whom she mixed when she had 
opportunity, and kept in touch with her mother's 
relatives in Wales. Thus, some time after her 

304 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

marriage Lucy Hawker went down to Trelethyn for a 
long visit, and had a daughter baptized there. 1 

Of the three sons-in-law Dorothy best liked Edward 
March, in some way he appealed to her, and she 
accompanied her liking with both trust and respect, 
only to find herself treated later with horrible ingrati- 
tude, and almost incredible cruelty. 

In the month of her daughter's marriage a bogus 
epitaph upon Dorothy was published in The Monthly 
Mirror. The epitaph in itself was but a pun, the 
comment upon it, however, was so painfully, though 
unintentionally, prophetic that it gives a shock to the 
reader aware of after events 

"When in a MERRY strain 

What rare delight she gave ! 
But now she gives us pain, 
Because she's in a GRAVE." 

The writer followed this with a grumble that people 
would not die, and so give him the chance of exercis- 
ing his art of epitaph-making, and added, " Mrs. 
Jordan goes to Ireland with only, as Brutus says, 
a plank between her and eternity; but nothing 
happens. Others have been drowned going thither; 
some women kissed to death, and many murdered 
there in more expeditious and certain ways, but no, 
nothing happens to her. Something might have been 
expected from children, but as they grow up none of 
them vex her to death not one if but one had done 
it I should have been contented." 

The writer had not many years to wait for satisfac- 
tion, for Mrs. Alsop did her best to grant his wish, and 
Edward March contrived to get it fulfilled. 

In January 1810 Dorothy was delighting Manchester, 

1 Family Letters. 




Toil and Trouble 305 

closing there on Saturday the 2Oth and playing at 
Leeds in February. There she received a curious 
letter of remonstrance signed by several professed 
Methodists, which testified to the power of her acting. 

She was solemnly accused of holding communication 
with the Wicked One, who had lent her charms, spells, 
and magic, since, as they alleged, they had been 
tempted against their will to go to the Devil's House 
six times, though they had never seen a play before, 
and hated all such abominations; that she had thus 
spirited the money out of their pockets and induced 
them to neglect their families and employments. The 
letter concluded with a serious admonition to her as 
she appeared to have a soul worth saving, to give up 
her profession and intimacy with the Wicked One. 

As to the charge of magic spells, etc., she might 
fairly in answer have referred to her natural talents 
and genuine humour, and have said with Othello, 
" this is the only witchcraft I have used." 

March and April were partly absorbed by prepara- 
tion for the wedding, and though she was acting 
practically all the rest of the year the information 
available about her movements is but scrappy. In the 
beginning of June she was in Edinburgh, and finish- 
ing there on the 2Oth, she went on to Glasgow, where 
her affectionate heart received a terrible shock. 

The Duke of Clarence's summer illness came on 
as usual, but this year he was very bad indeed ; so bad, 
that he thought death was at hand, and sent an express 
messenger to the north to summon Dorothy. The 
managers of the theatre most nobly "relinquished all 
the advantages which might be expected from the 
exertions of her talents, and Mrs. Jordan immediately 
set off for Bushy. 3 ' She drove night and day, leaving 

306 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

her carriage neither to eat nor to sleep, and her state 
of mind may be imagined. But on arrival at Bushy 
she found the Duke slightly better, though attended 
constantly by Doctors Dundas and Blane. 

To this time belongs a letter from Dorothy, which 
Boaden carelessly places a year and a half later after 
the separation had been effected. Not only the fact of 
the Duke's illness, but the allusions to the " very great 
shock," and to " two Drury Lanes " proves this, to say 
nothing of the circumstantial evidence that they would 
scarcely have been inhabiting the same house on such 
amicable terms after Dorothy had received her 
marching orders. 

" Dear Sir, Allow me to thank you for your kind 
attention to my request. We really live so much in 
the country, and so entirely within ourselves, that we 
might be dead and buried, without our friends knowing 
even that we had been ill. 

" I have the heartfelt happiness of informing you 
that the Duke is considerably better, though far from 
being as we could wish. However, his physicians 
have given His Royal Highness permission to go to 
town to-morrow. I have been confined ever since my 
return, owing to the fatigue and anxiety I have gone 
through. I fear it will be some time before I recover 
the very great shock I received. I hear there are to be 
two Drury Lanes, I believe just as likely as one. 
Yours ever, 


To this illness, which must temporarily have caused 
Clarence to see things with clearer vision, is to be attri- 
buted the announcement that this coming season of 
1810-1811 was to be the very last in which Mrs. Jordan 

Toil and Trouble 307 

would be seen on the stage, an announcement which 
was made in the papers of July. That decision arrived 
at, the Duke, as soon as he was well enough, set to work 
to map out her winter travels and make the very best 
terms possible for her. Dorothy was probably very 
happy for a month or two that summer, forgetting the 
old proverb which tells how when the devil was sick 
the devil a monk would be, but that the devil when well 
the devil a monk was he. The very thing which had 
brought her and the man she loved closer together, 
was also the first step towards their parting; for the 
Queen, that masterful and often hard-hearted mother, 
had been upset by her son's illness. For years he had 
been practically in disgrace, and rarely included in any 
Court festivities; now, however, the Queen began to 
invite him to Windsor and to Buckingham House, and 
actually, in August, went to the length of celebrating 
his birthday as a family festival at Frogmore House, 
where she resided when at Windsor. She had 
probably at last come to the somewhat obvious conclu- 
sion that the worst way of convicting him of folly was 
by closing the doors upon him, and the best way of 
weaning him from his companion of eighteen years was 
to separate them by bringing him back into the Royal 
circle. His sister Amelia, too, was desperately ill all 
through this autumn, and so from one cause and 
another Clarence was thenceforward constantly at 
Windsor, sharing in all fetes and brought directly 
under the influence of the Queen. 

The enigmatic observation in Dorothy's letter of 
two Drury Lanes refers to a managerial idea that the 
public had so increased that there was room for two 
new theatres under the one management. There had 
been whispers about this during the past autumn, but 

308 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

it was just being discussed openly when the letter was 

In August 1 8 10, Dorothy was faced with the fact 
that managers were beginning to think they ought to 
get her services on terms more advantageous to them- 
selves, and she had a discussion with the Richmond 
people which drew an ultimatum from her 

" I must either decline performing at Richmond or 
do so on the old terms, twenty guineas per night for six 
nights, paying you twenty for the seventh; twice a 
week; the time from the loth or I2th of August. 
You arranging the plays and prices yourself and 
directing the business, or I must decline it altogether." 

Whether the Richmond manager climbed down I 
do not know, but shortly after she was endeavouring 
to arrange that her farewell should be given from the 
stage of Covent Garden early in 1811, at the large 
salary of 100 a night. However, the management 
thought the terms excessive and in spite of the 
following letter the matter hung fire for a time. 

"Bushy, Friday. 

" Mrs. Jordan presents her compliments to Mr. 
Henry Harris. A long engagement in London being 
an object of moment to her, on reflection, Mrs. Jordan 
thinks that a few nights ( which she first mentioned to 
Mr. Harris) would not answer her purpose or that of 
her employers. Mr. Wroughton, an old friend of hers, 
has at her request kindly undertaken to present this, 
and being in possession of her ideas and expectations 
on this occasion has full power to negotiate for her. 
Mrs. Jordan is quitting Bushy on Monday, remaining 
absent near two months." 

Thomas Harris, the proprietor and manager of 
Covent Garden, being away ill at Brighton explains 

Toil and Trouble 309 

the fact of the letter being addressed to a junior 
member of the family. The two months' absence to 
which the letter refers was occupied in touring, and 
as far as Dorothy believed in saying farewell to the 
towns which she had known in the height of her powers. 
She started at Cheltenham in September, and though 
it is not possible to give a list of the places she visited, 
I find her at Liverpool, "acting with as much spirit 
as ever she did," in October, and at Hull, where she 
was judged as too matronly both in figure and manner, 
but "in characters of a ripened age," such as Widow 
Cheerly, Lady Bell, Widow Belmour, and Mrs. Sullen 
(a part which she had once before played and then 
vowed she would never play again) " she exacted 
universal admiration." In December she was at 

It is pathetic to think that this dear, hard-worked 
woman driven by necessity was tramping the weary 
round of the principal theatres for two or three months 
at a time when she was longing for rest and the natural 
reward of her many years of exertion, and it is horrible 
to realize that a man whose absolutely assured income 
to say nothing of other emoluments was 18,000 a 
year was urging her on to work, arranging her tours, 
and receiving money from her in almost every letter 
she wrote him. That this was so, can be absolutely 
proved by the letters of Dorothy's to the Duke penned 
at this period. 

She would have worked herself to death for him, 
and was giving him everything that she could, for she 
knew that the idea of separation was only scotched, 
not dead, and as the Duke's debts accumulated she 
saw the end of all happiness approaching unless she 
could do something to hold it. 



" O unfortunate woman ! A combination against my honour ! which 
most concerns me now, because you share in my disgrace, sir." From 
The Country Wife, by WYCHERLEY. 

" Therefore, my noble lord, have a little patience, we'll go and 
look over our deeds and settlements immediately." From A Trip to 

" If you should get a wife, I trust, 
You'll prove to her a little just ; 
Prove to her love more true and fond, 
Than when you stole poor Jordan's bond." 


THE list of engagements with which the last chapter 
ended effectually disproves the statement, based upon 
the careless assertions of the early biographers, that 
Dorothy lived a purely domestic and happy connubial 
life through 1810, and that for some peculiar and 
hidden reason she returned to the stage for a solitary 
engagement in Bath in February 1811. Also the new 
light thrown by her letters upon the Duke's attitude 
and action concerning these engagements disprove the 
common statement that Dorothy had such a hankering 
after the boards that she simply could not keep off them, 
though the Duke was always begging her to retire. 

As was 1810 so was 1811; indeed, in one essential 
it was worse, for while Dorothy was laughing on the 
stage for money, Clarence was courting a girl of 
twenty-two for money. The apologists for the Duke 
declare that in asserting these things writers were 
eager to present him in an unfavourable light, and 
stated what they could not prove, and that no letters 
existed to clear up vexed points. 


The Separation 3 1 1 

Well ! many letters exist to prove many things, and 
there is the evidence, sometimes unconsciously given, 
in newspapers, and the circumstantial evidence 
gathered from a careful comparison of events, all of 
which tend to show that the princely Duke is smirched 
and dishonoured by his treatment of Dorothy during 
the last years of her life. The mantle of Queen 
Charlotte, the enemy of her own sex, had fallen upon 
him; he not only used his wife, for she was that by 
every natural law, to his own advantage, but threw her 
aside with a callous cynicism that was foreign to his 
character. He did the actual deed with tears, he so 
reasoned with her as to make her believe that it was 
vitally necessary, and afterwards she followed his 
dishonourable career with a pitying love, resolutely 
refusing ever to speak against him. 

"Had he left me to starve I never would have 
uttered a word to his disadvantage ! J! was her 
passionate exclamation. 

In later years, when Adelaide had rescued him from 
the mud, the character given him was that of a kind, 
affectionate, passionate and often stupid man; one 
who in anger would swear at a clergyman or hold a 
relative up to public ridicule; yet, on the other hand, 
soft-hearted and anxious not to inflict pain. But his 
treatment of Dorothy this year shows an absence of 
feeling, which reflects the character of the Queen. 
The public records of his movements at this time prove 
that he was constantly in touch with his mother, that 
all through his negotiations with Miss Tylney Long, 
the heiress, he was dining at Windsor and leaving 
there for Bushy the same night. He was there con- 
stantly while arranging his separation with Dorothy, 
and was in consultation with the Queen a night or two 

312 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

before he followed Miss Long to Ramsgate. Thus it 
is scarcely possible, knowing how much Charlotte dis- 
liked his connection with Dorothy by this time, and 
how acquisitive she was, not to suspect that the Queen's 
influence was strong upon him, and that she was fully 
conversant with his intentions towards the heiress. 

However, to follow events as they happened. In 
January 1811 Dorothy again went to Bristol, and on 
the 22nd she began a ten nights' engagement at Bath, 
acting every second night in her usual characters. 
Though her movements in the provinces were not much 
chronicled, she afterwards acted at various places; it 
is a mistake to assume that she only performed when 
Boaden mentions it, for it was usually only when some- 
thing notable happened at this or that town that her 
presence there was recorded, such as the tragic incident 
of Cheltenham this year. 

In June she came forward for the first time in the 
new Covent Garden at a benefit, " and she never gave 
the character of Peggy with more vivacity, nor was 
ever received with warmer applause." Her reception 
was, in fact, so wildly enthusiastic that the manager 
of the theatre suddenly awoke to the fact that she was 
worth her own price, and offered her an engagement 
for July at ,100 a night. So on July 2 she began a series 
of ten performances, acting three times a week, and 
being welcomed by many congratulatory and affection- 
ate comments in the papers. On the i ith of the month, 
when The Way to Keep Him was the play, and " the 
elegant, the accomplished Widow Belmour was person- 
ated by Mrs. Jordan," there was a chorus of praise over 
the manner in which she delivered her rules for the 
keeping of a husband ; the following passage receiving 
three rounds of applause 

The Separation 313 

" To win a heart is easy to keep it is the difficulty. 
After the fatal words, ' for better for worse/ women 
relax into indolence, and, while they are guilty of no 
infidelity, they think everything safe. But they are 
mistaken and a great deal is wanting; an address, a 
vivacity, a desire to please ; the agreeable contrast ; the 
sense that pleases, the little folly that charms." 

How men have always loved think that they loved 
" the little folly that charms," and how many a woman 
in the past has received black eyes and a beating for 
trying to display it. As a matter of fact, a real man 
hates folly, hates a woman to affect it and hates still 
more that a woman should really possess it; the only 
thing that he does like about it is the hidden sentiment 
behind the words, the idea that a woman will conde- 
scend even to folly that she may prove him the superior, 
and even this is the characteristic of a weak man only. 

Poor Dorothy might well utter this passage with 
" inimitable effect," for her attempts " to keep him " 
by loyalty and hard work had not been successful, and 
she may have wondered whether a " little folly " would 
not have been more efficacious. She was struggling 
with all her strength against impossible odds, for the 
money she could dribble into the ducal purse was gone 
before it was received. Barrington pompously and 
solemnly vows that she earned 7000 the last year of 
her acting. Even if she had in 1811 earned anything 
like that, it would have been of no use to a man who 
had a determined eye on a much larger income. 

From Covent Garden Dorothy went in August to 
Leeds and to York ; back to York ! the town where 
Gentleman Smith had so often watched her and where 
she and Tate Wilkinson, now dead, had so often 
quarrelled. After that she may have taken Richmond, 

314 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

but Margate was not visited that summer. The fare- 
well winter season had stretched through the spring 
and summer to August and September, and she was 
still acting without a break, though from time to time 
the public were reminded that her last visits were 
being made. 

The relations between the Duke and Dorothy were 
very strained this summer, and it is probable that they 
were not often at Bushy House at the same time, and 
when they were they quarrelled. 

The Great Illegitimates affirms that by this time 
"unpleasant bickering frequently occurred; that the 
children of our actress were estranged from her, and 
as -pecuniary resources failed, a palpable coldness and 
total neglect became apparent in a certain quarter. 
We do not pretend to deny that a want of money might 
be experienced by one individual, but we are by no 
means enabled to account for such a deficiency in 
another quarter . . . that she did begin to feel 
pecuniary embarrassment is a notorious fact, the solu- 
tion of which some persons perhaps may shrewdly 
surmise, notwithstanding all varnish used to gloss over 
and mystify the fact." 

The report of one fateful quarrel was preserved by 
Frances Alsop, who was in the room at the time, 
Dorothy being at work on a little wool rug designed 
for wrapping round a tea-urn. Clarence had by then 
made up his mind concerning his future, but the way 
in which he conveyed his plans to Dorothy seem to 
have been more the result of irritation than of a 
determined plan. I quote the passage from The Great 

" Some altercation taking place, and words growing 
high, the unfortunate lady, in the irritation of the 

The Separation 315 

moment arising from wounded pride and indignant 
feelings, threw the rug at the head of her friend, which 
piece of workmanship we have recently had in our 
hands. We give this as one of the statements fre- 
quently reiterated by Mrs. Alsop, which becomes the 
more valuable as tending to confirm the statement we 
have previously made respecting the real cause of Mrs. 
Jordan's separation from her protector [the courting 
of Miss Long]." Mrs. Alsop would scarcely have 
invented this story, and I have proved several times 
the truth of incidents given in this book from corro- 
borative evidence in contemporary biographies. 

Dorothy, seeing what was before her, yet hoping to 
avert her fate, placed every obstacle in the Duke's 
way, and declared her determination not to be cast out 
into beggary. She had her bond, drawn up in 1791, 
and that should be kept to the letter. She herself 
must have failed to see how Clarence could possibly 
carry out its provisions, and perhaps hoped thus to 
stave off the final separation. Her future was impos- 
sible to contemplate; her best days were past, each 
year lessened her chance of making an income, her 
promises to her three daughters had not been re- 
deemed, and she was often ill and incapable of 
acting. Thus she could only anticipate an old age 
of want. 

Concerning the bond there is a story told that the 
Duke contrived by some means to get it from her and 
keep it. It is alluded to by many writers, and one 
hints at it in the following 

" In regard to the thousand pound settlement, such 
things have been heard of as procuring the loan of a 
bond under specious pretences, and never returning 
the same. Transactions of this nature will sometimes 

316 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

occur in families, as a lady of the name of Robinson 
could testify was she still in existence." l 

Boaden does not mention it, but he admits that " it 
is not unlikely that she might have placed some part 
of her fortune at the temporary disposition of her noble 
friend," which for such a royalist was a serious admis- 
sion. The evidence, however, points to the conclusion 
that, whatever the Duke tried in this way, Dorothy 
retained possession of the document. 

It was money, money, money which caused the 
separation, she said, and some people who want money 
will sell their souls for it. The Duke would have been 
horrified at such a suggestion, and yet he was prepared 
to go a long distance in a transaction of the sort. For 
by this time it was an open secret that he was paying 
court, not so much to a young commoner, as to her 

Two years earlier, when Dorothy's heart was break- 
ing over the vile calumnies which were being spread 
abroad concerning her, that is in April 1809, a certain 
lady arrived in London with her household, announc- 
ing that arrival to her friends by sending out invita- 
tions to a sumptuous party in Grosvenor Square This 
was Lady Catherine Tylney Long, widow of Sir James 
Tylney Long, who had brought her two daughters up 
to town for the season. The ball was opened by her 
eldest daughter Catherine dancing with the Marquis 
of Tweeddale, and though there were many notabilities 
present the Duke of Clarence was not among them. 
In October 1810 Catherine came of age, being one of 
the richest girls in England, the daily papers crediting 
her with landed property which brought her a rental of 

1 Perdita, whom the Regent kept by means of a bond, the conditions 
of which he never fulfilled. 

The Separation 317 

73,000, and an accumulation of 350,000 in money, 
making her yearly income as much as 93,000. As a 
matter of fact she had 40,000 a year, and she neces- 
sarily had also such a train of applicants for this 
fortune with herself thrown in that she hardly knew 
some of the individuals which composed it. Yet for 
nearly three years after her first introduction into 
London she remained single. As her name spread 
the attention of the Royal Dukes was attracted, and 
Clarence decided that in her lay his salvation. In this 
belief he was encouraged by his brother the Prince of 
Wales, who, on his becoming Regent, was said to be 
ready to use all his influence to get the Marriage Act 
repealed for the purpose. 

The Duke proposed to Miss Long in the summer 
of 1811, and was refused; but he by no means lost 
heart not imagining that a commoner could sniff at 
a Royal Duke ; and he continued to endeavour to put 
Dorothy out of his life, one method being to declare 
his intention of giving up Bushy House. He also 
wrote to Miss Long making a renewed declaration of 
his love, and she "wrote him a very proper letter in 
answer, declining the honour in the most decided 
terms," says the Duke of Buckingham in his Memoirs 
of the Court of England during the Regency. 

Meanwhile, Dorothy went to Cheltenham about the 
1 6th of September, to act ten times as usual, on 
alternate nights. Her engagement ended, but it hap- 
pened she had promised to act one night more to swell 
the benefit receipts of the manager, Watson. William 
Oxberry, who was at the theatre that night and who 
naturally knew nothing of what had gone before, gave 
an account of the incident in his Dramatic Biography, 
which conveyed the impression that Dorothy received 

318 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

then the first hint of an intended separation. The 
Duke believing her engagement ended sent her a letter 
that afternoon by the hand of .General Charitie, his 
personal friend and confidant, said Edward Stirling, 
asking her to go straight from Cheltenham to Maiden- 
head finally to arrange the terms of their parting. 

So at last the blow had actually fallen, at last hope 
was really dead, and Dorothy felt all the anguish of 
total loss. Boaden says she had a succession of faint- 
ing fits, and Oxberry says she became frantic and had 
hysterics, but they could only know anything about the 
receipt of the letter from hearsay; Stirling also is so 
thoroughly wrong in all the facts he gives about her 
that the Duke left her to marry Adelaide, for instance 
that it practically remains for our own imagination 
to determine as to how she received the news. She 
was not a fainting woman, but she may have fainted, 
and it is doubtful whether she was hysterical. What- 
ever she felt she refused to entertain the idea of giving 
up the performance that night and duly appeared on 
the stage. 

One pathetic incident marked the evening in a scene 
where she should have been accused by a character 
named Jobson of having been made laughing drunk. 
The poor thing tried to laugh at her cue, and instead 
burst into tears, upon which keen-witted Jobson said 

"Why, Nell, the conjuror has not only made thee 
drunk, he has made thee crying drunk." 

The fact that the Duke had expected her to leave 
Cheltenham that day, and would await her at a certain 
time caused Dorothy to have a travelling carriage 
ready at the stage door as soon as the play was over, 
into which she got without even stopping to change 
her theatrical clothes. 

The Separation 319 

Given baldly this sounds rather unbalanced, but it 
must be remembered that she would have her maid 
with her, and that a travelling coach was quite com- 
modious enough to be, and indeed often was, used as 
a dressing-room. Thus Dorothy had no intention of 
doing her whole journey or of appearing in Maiden- 
head as Nell. 

The interview, which must have been painful 
enough, took place, but with little tangible result, as 
Dorothy refused to accept the terms offered by 
Clarence, but what those terms were no one knows. 
This summons was not as is always represented the 
first hint Dorothy had of a separation, nor was the 
matter settled then by any means. It just happened 
that Oxberry heard the story of the summons while at 
Cheltenham, and so, this one incident being definitely 
known, biographers leapt to the conclusion that it was 
the only incident in the whole affair. 

The Duke went back to Bushy House after seeing 
Dorothy, and was there during the whole of the next 
week, perhaps longer, and it is very likely that Dorothy 
went with him, as there was still much to arrange. 
Whatever their separate movements the discussion as 
to terms was prolonged until December. 

In October Miss Long, with her little court, went 
to Ramsgate, and the Duke with George, his son, 
then Captain Fitzclarence, was staying in the neigh- 
bouring town of Margate, it being said that they 
intended to make " a tour round the island." How- 
ever, Clarence wanted advice, so he turned from there 
westward instead of southward, and on the 22nd was 
dining with his mother at Windsor, starting a day or 
two later for Ramsgate in the wake of Miss Long. 

Whether his royal parent had given him carte 

320 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

blanche, or whether it was his own idea, this impecuni- 
ous person began to make a great splash at Ramsgate, 
fitting up the warm baths in a very elegant manner for 
the benefit of the town, entirely at his own expense; 
holding on the 28th a great review of the Somerset 
Regiment of Militia, at which the number of fashion- 
able spectators was very great, and giving the same 
evening a grand ball to two hundred friends, Miss 
Long being the object of all this. 

That which condemned Clarence above everything, 
both his good heart and his wit, was that being on such 
a quest he took with him Dorothy's eldest daughter 
Sophia, who was then either fourteen or nineteen, 
probably the latter. That summer she had come out 
in Court circles under her father's protection at the 
Carlton House fete, that magnificent party by which 
the Regent, with execrable taste, celebrated the hope- 
less illness of his father and his own accession to 
power. Sophia was reported the next day in the usual 
newspaper phrase as being " an amiable and highly 
accomplished young lady." All through the summer 
this young girl was by Clarence's side, hearing him 
discuss her mother with the people he visited, and 
watching him perhaps sympathizing with his endeav- 
ours when he courted Miss Long. Can anything 
more heartless on a man's part be imagined, and is it 
to be wondered that Dorothy's girl, thus tutored, left 
her mother to die and did not even see that her body 
was given a decent grave? 

Miss Tylney Long was an independent young 
person, and she could not have found it an added 
attraction in the Duke that he should thus flaunt his 
family before her eyes, and keep in her mind the 
woman who had lived with him for twenty years. 

The Separation 321 

Though she was not an actress, she was a commoner, 
and when she considered she could surely see little 
security for herself in such a marriage, so she refused 
the Duke's offers again and again. 

Most of the biographers assert that the Tylney Long 
affair had no foundation excepting in gossip ; but they 
wished to think that and looked for no evidence. 
Boaden, true to his conception of royalty as something 
immaculate and divine, says 

"If this were ever a matter of deliberation in the 
royal mind, I am quite sure it was rejected upon 
principle, and every notion of such a thing was soon 
closed by the union of the wealthy heiress in March 
1812 with Mr. Wellesley Pole, the son of Lord 

However, solid fact is more valuable than virtuous 
suppositions, and in a letter written on November 3, 
1811, by the Hon. Mrs. Calvert, 1 we find "The Duke 
has proposed for Miss Long, the great heiress, and has 
promised that the Regent will get the Act of Parlia- 
ment repealed which prevents the Royal Family 
marrying subjects. She has refused him, but still 
encourages him, and some think it will be a match." 

A fortnight later she wrote 

" The Duke of Clarence and his daughter have been 
paying Lady Darnley a visit. He told her that he had 
proposed for Miss Long and had been refused, but he 
did not despair, for he felt sure that the tenth time he 
would be accepted. Lady Darnley says Miss Long is 
a very high young lady, c Set her up, say I ! ' The 
Duke is going to part with Mrs. Jordan." 

From this we see that the rupture between Dorothy 
and Clarence had not until then, November 18, been 

1 An Irish Beauty of the Regency, by Mrs. Warenne Blake. 

322 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

talked of generally, though it was known at Richmond, 
and this note also proves the fallacy of the idea that the 
summons from Cheltenham marked the total severance 
of all connection between the two. As a matter of fact, 
Dorothy was at that time at Bushy House, and there 
was still considerable trouble over the negotiations, 
which were being carried on by John Barton for the 
Prince, and General Samuel Hawker for Mrs. Jordan. 
The Duke of Buckingham throws some light on the 

" After his (the Duke of Clarence) arrival (at Rams- 
gate) he proposed three or four times more ; upon his 
return to town he sent her an abstract of the Royal 
Marriage Act, altered, as he said it had been agreed 
to by the Prince of Wales, whom he had consulted, 
and also conveyed the Queen's best wishes and regards 
to neither of whom had he said one single word on 
the subject." 

Now the Duke of Buckingham was a great friend of 
the Prince Regent's, and the Prince, being a moral 
coward, usually not to state it too bluntly said that 
which was most convenient at the moment, so Bucking- 
ham's accusation against Clarence's truthfulness must 
not be taken literally. Circumstances point to his 
having been quite truthful on this matter. Bucking- 
ham gives further information, this time about 
Dorothy, saying that on Clarence's return to town 
from Ramsgate he proposed that Dorothy should keep 
half the children and he would allow her 800 a year. 

" But she is most stout in rejecting all compromise, 
till he has paid her what he owes her ; she stating that 
during the twenty years she has lived with him he has 
constantly received and spent all her earnings by 
acting, and that she is now a beggar, by living with 

The Separation 323 

and at times supporting him. This she repeats to all 
the neighbourhood of Bushy, where she remains and 
is determined to continue." 

This is the only reference I have come across of 
Dorothy ever speaking a word against the Duke, and 
seeing the state of mind to which she was reduced it 
is not wonderful that she was momentarily and out- 
wardly bitter. 

Though she knew that Clarence was wishing to 
marry Catherine Long, she did not know all the details 
of the affair, and her friends soon repaired this omis- 
sion. It was, however, left to that arch mischief-maker, 
the Duke of Cumberland, "who must interfere in 
everything," to give her a full account of what hap- 
pened at Ramsgate. She was furious, and wrote 
Clarence a furious letter. Buckingham says that she 
also wrote an acknowledgment to Cumberland, and 
that in the agitation of the moment she made the usual 
fatal mistake, of directing the letters wrongly. The 
result was a great quarrel between the brothers, and 
really between two such men, both delighting in bad 
language, it would certainly have been a lively scene. 

The Duke of Cumberland seems to have taken a 
great interest in the proceedings, for on October n, 
between the meeting at Maidenhead and the Rams- 
gate visit Dorothy wrote to Clarence : " The Duke of 
Cumberland has been here for the last two hours, 
expressing the strongest friendship for me, and hoping 
that I should not go into the country again, but make 
a permanent engagement in London. I do not know 
whether he spoke from higher authority than his own, 
but he seemed very strenuous on the subject, he 
appeared quite at a loss for your going." 

It was later than this that Dorothy wrote a long 

324 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

letter to her Confidential friend, a letter in which she 
shows a brave front to the world, making the very best 
of the Duke's conduct, trying to console her wounded 
heart with the superficial praise and promises lavished 
upon her by the Regent and the Royal Family, 
and betraying the lengths to which her self-sacrifice 
could go. 

"Bushy, Saturday. 

" I received yours and its enclosure safe this 
morning. My mind is becoming somewhat reconciled 
to the shock and surprise it has lately received, for 
could you or the world believe that we have never had 
for twenty years the semblance of a quarrel, but this is 
so well known in our domestic circle that the aston- 
ishment is greater ! Money ^ money, my good friend, 
or the want of it, has, I am convinced, made him at 
this moment the most wretched of men, but having 
done wrong he does not like to retract, but with all his 
excellent qualities, and his domestic virtues, his love 
for his lovely children, what must he not at this 
moment suffer! His distress should have been 
relieved before, but this is entre nous. 

"All his letters are full of the most unqualified 
praise of my conduct, and it is a heartfelt blessing to 
know and feel that to the best of my power I have 
endeavoured to deserve it. 

" I have received the greatest kindness and atten- 
tion from the Regent and every branch of the Royal 
Family, who in the most unreserved terms deplore this 
melancholy business, the whole correspondence is 
before the Regent, and I am proud to add that my 
past and present conduct has secured me a friend who 

The Separation 325 

declares he never will forsake me, my forbearance, he 
says, is beyond what he could have imagined ; but what 
will not a woman do, who is firmly and sincerely 
attached had he left me to starve I would never have 
uttered a word to his disadvantage. I enclose you two 
other letters, and in a day or two you shall see more, 
the rest being in the hands of the Regent. And now, 
my dear friend, do not hear the poor Duke of Clarence 
unfairly abused; he has done wrong, and he is suffer- 
ing for it, but as far as he has left it in his own power 
he is doing everything kind and noble, even to the 
distressing himself. I thank you sincerely for the 
friendly caution at the end of your letter, there will, I 
trust, be no occasion for it, but it was kind and friendly, 
and as such I shall ever esteem it. 

" I remain, dear sir, 

" Yours sincerely, 

'' These letters are for your eye alone." 

Boaden puts a footnote, " The two letters enclosed 
by Mrs. Jordan returned to her, faithfully obeying the 
condition attached to their communication." 

That Dorothy should again assert that she and the 
Duke had never had a quarrel points to Boaden again 
as the confidential friend. She had done the same 
thing early in 1809 when the terms upon which they 
lived became the subject of public talk, and when also 
her protective instinct was shown to be stronger than 
her candour. It is not possible to think, even without 
evidence to the contrary, that over such events no 
hint of anger could have been betrayed. The Duke 
was subject to mad fits of rage, as is evidenced by his 
public treatment of the Duchess of Kent in later days, 

326 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

and when obsessed by such he roared like the very 
bull of Bashan before the whole world. Dorothy 
herself was quick-tempered, and accustomed to plain 
speech ; thus, in spite of her brave words, they cannot 
be taken so much as adhering to fact as giving the 
impression which she desired to be handed on to the 
public. A curious point in this letter is the caution 
which her correspondent had given her. Who or what 
was it against? As far as can be traced the key to it 
is to be found in the letter she wrote to Clarence, in 
which she mentions the Duke of Cumberland. Of all 
the Princes Cumberland bore the worst character for 
amativeness, and later other crimes were imputed to 
him. And it is evident that this dangerous person was 
interesting himself much in Dorothy's affairs, but why ? 
It could not be love, for she was just fifty and had 
had fourteen children, thus some other motive must 
have actuated him. 

As usual the biographers are vague about these 
years, and Huish, a contemporary writer, places the 
Cumberland incident in 1809, but as he crowds many 
events of different years together, he cannot be taken 
as exact, though his summing up is worth recording. 
At this time, he says, extreme moral delinquency was 
imputed to Clarence, who was labouring under great 
pecuniary distress ; and ruinous measures were resorted 
to to provide for each day. But " whatever his case, 
there was no excuse for the Duke to allow Mrs. Jordan 
to be the object of the rancour and malice of a certain 
party whose infamous design was to attach criminality 
to her, and in a point in which she was as pure as the 
snow which lies in Diana's lap." 

Boaden said that the causes of the calumnies during 
these years were three, concurring to swell the tide of 

The Separation 327 

persecution, while the press was equally well disposed 
to help each one. And he gives those causes as : 
First, numerous scribblers who hated the Duke; 
secondly, a few writers connected with the theatres 
who were ready to convert Dorothy's virtues into pitch 
and declare that if she benefited any one " she did it 
for her body's lust"; thirdly, more important people 
who tried to engender distrust or disgust in the mind 
of the Duke of Clarence, hoping that this, joined to 
his monetary embarrassment, would make him part 
finally with Mrs. Jordan. 

Huish goes further when he insinuates that there 
was a plot among the royal relatives to ensure a 
rupture, thus leaving Clarence blameless in the eyes 
of the world when he married, as they hoped he would 
do. The Cumberland scandal appears never to have 
been widely circulated, but it was forced upon 
Dorothy's notice, and she followed her last letter to 
Boaden with the following cry of pain 


" I should be sorry the letters I have enclosed 
to you were the only vouchers I could produce to the 
world, if necessary. But, good God ! what will not 
the world say? I received two letters this day, telling 
me that I was accused of intriguing with the Duke of 
Cumberland ! 

" I am heart-sick and almost worn out with this 
cruel business; but I am, 

" Very gratefuly yours, 


At the end of November matters began to move 
more quickly. Clarence returned to London about the 

328 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

ioth, and on the 24th was at Portsmouth, continuing 
with George his " tour round the island." In between 
those dates he had as has been seen been trying his 
own hand at arranging the settlement, and failing. On 
the 25th the coming marriage of Miss Tylney Long 
with Mr. Wellesley Pole was announced, and on the 
29th Boaden had conveyed to the public the chief 
points in Dorothy's letter to him. 

She had been negotiating a second engagement with 
Covent Garden, which was to be " the very last time " 
she would appear on any stage, so Boaden's paragraph 
took the following form 

" Mrs. Jordan, it seems, has declined all theatrical 
engagements at present, on account of the agitation 
of her feelings, arising from a late extraordinary event, 
so extraordinary that it is difficult to form any reason- 
able conjecture on the subject, as nothing has been 
urged against her conduct, which indeed has received 
every satisfactory testimony and even soothing com- 
munications, from the quarter where objections might 
be supposed to exist, if they had any existence." 

The papers were discreet and perhaps commiserat- 
ing, for there was scarcely any further public allusion 
made to the separation, and no stones were thrown to 
deepen Dorothy's trouble. Clarence remained at 
Portsmouth ten days and arrived at St. James's on 
December 5, after which he pushed matters through 
about the settlement. Rumours were floated that he 
had increased it to 1200 a year, and then that it 
would be four times that amount, and at last in the 
middle of the month the thing was concluded. 
Dorothy wrote a letter from St. James's dated 
December 7 (probably copied wrongly by Boaden 
for 17) 

The Separation 329 


" I lose not a moment in letting you know that 
the Duke of Clarence has concluded and settled upon 
me and his children the most liberal and generous 
provision, and I trust everything will sink into oblivion. 

" Yours ever, 


In a letter which she wrote to the Duke from Bushy 
House a little later occurred the paragraph 

"With your arrangements I again unequivocally 
repeat I am most perfectly satisfied, but under all cir- 
cumstances I did and had a right to expect some con- 
sideration from another quarter, but I am sorry to say 
that in an appeal I made to the mercy and munificence 
of your Royal brothers, I perceive that they appear 
totally ignorant of the meaning of those words." 

What can this mean, read with the earlier letter 
mentioning the royal brothers, but that she had made 
great concessions in the agreement under the belief 
that the Princes intended to safeguard her to some 

. Years later the Duke's man, Thomas Barton, pub- 
lished to the world the terms upon which the separation 
was arranged, and they may as well have place here. 
She was to have the care up to a certain age of her 
four youngest daughters, for whose maintenance she 
was to receive 1500, and for their house and carriage 
600. For her own use she was given 1500, and 
,800 to make provision for her elder daughters, not 
the children of the Duke, which made in all ,4400. 

Barton adds, * This settlement was carried into 
effect, a trustee [himself] was appointed, and the 
monies under such trust were paid quarterly to the 

330 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

respective accounts at the banking house of Messrs. 
Coutts and Co. It was a stipulation in the said settle- 
ment, that in the event of Mrs. Jordan's resuming her 
profession, the care of the Duke's four daughters, 
together with the ^1500 per annum for their mainten- 
ance, should revert to his Royal Highness. . . . Upon 
settling the annual allowance to Mrs. Jordan, every- 
thing in the shape of a money transaction was brought 
to account, and the most trifling sums, even upon recol- 
lection, were admitted, and interest being calculated 
upon the whole in her favour to the latest period, the 
balance was paid over by me on the part of the Duke, 
and for which I hold Mrs. Jordan's receipt." 

On paper this sounds very well, though Barton's 
further claim that the Duke was liberal, noble and 
generous to the highest degree will not stand when the 
matter is examined. To take the money items first. 
The ,600 for the house and carriage was not Mrs. 
Jordan's at all, but was paid through the bank and the 
trustee for its specific purpose; the 1500 was to be 
used for the little girls, including education. The 
,800 had nothing to do with Dorothy, being paid 
direct to the daughters by the bankers, and thus 
Dorothy's income was the mere ^1500! Quite 
enough ! those purists will say who can only look on 
her as a mistress and a thing of nought. But it must 
be remembered that she could earn very much more 
than that amount in one year, and that to gain the 
1500 she was bound never to act again under pain of 
losing the children who were so dear to her, children 
of the ages of 13, 10, 7 and 5. The youngest boy, 
Augustus, six years old, was taken from her already, 
as was the eldest girl, Sophia, the darling of her 
father's heart. 

The Separation 331 

Barton asserts, too, and probably quite truthfully, 
that everything that Dorothy had lent or given to the 
Duke was added together, interest calculated and the 
balance paid over; but he does not say how that 
balance was paid over, and he is careful not to hint 
that the ,800 a year paid to the Ford daughters was 
the interest on the greater part of that balance. The 
way in which the Duke settled to pay 1000 towards 
Dorothea March's marriage settlement is a revelation 
in the method by which he discharged his liabilities, 
and it must be remembered that he was worse off in 
1811 than he had been in 1809, that his debts were 
greater, and that, in fact, he was in desperate straits. 
That he paid over tens of thousands of pounds in 
money is not to be credited for one moment, though 
it is quite easy to believe that once again he found 
parchment an extremely good medium. Whatever 
may have been the form that his "great generosity" 
took, Dorothy's affairs showed no signs of increased 
affluence, not a single act of extravagance is on record 
to prove that she was in really easy circumstances, one 
writer declaring to the contrary that she was very 
needy ; and when six months later a new and tremen- 
dous demand was made upon her she had no capital 
with which to meet it. 

Her daughters only received 200 a year each, and 
there was a fourth ,200 which is not historically 
allotted to any one, which is another indication of the 
existence of Hester Bettesworth, who is so consistently 
ignored by Boaden. In considering this it must not 
be lost sight of that the very names of the Fitzclarence 
children at this time have to be sought for, and had 
they not been of royal parentage would most probably 
never have been recorded. 

332 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

On the subject of the giving up of the stage or the 
children there is something to be said. In the first 
place, it was Dorothy's own desire that she should give 
up her profession, one which she had been unable to 
gratify because of the ever present need of money in 
the Duke's household. In the second place, this royal 
Prince could never again hope to benefit by her work, 
and therefore would at this juncture be quite ready to 
let her have her will. And in the third he was moved 
with fatherly solicitude for his children, and would 
wish that if they were away from him they should have 
the constant presence and care of their mother. 

Dorothy's welcomed absence from the theatre, how- 
ever, only lasted a few months. When she was, in 
May 1812, tempted to go again upon the boards she 
used the Duke's prohibition as an excuse against it, and 
when she was forced by necessity to take up work 
again she did as she had done for over twenty years, 
threw dust into the eyes of the public and shielded the 
Duke by declaring that she worked to gain money for 
her elder daughters, and that the Duke had in his great 
kindness granted her permission to play in the hope 
that it might improve her health. 



" Oh, where among our nobles will you meet 
A man so faithful, modest and discreet, 
As love-sick Clarence, amorous and gay, 
Who steals the ladies' tender hearts away? 
Offers his hand to Long, short, fair and brown, 
And gains among the females great renown." 


" Had he left me to starve I never would have uttered a word to his 
disadvantage." DOROTHY JORDAN. 

IT was not unnatural that Catherine Tylney Long 
should share with the Duke in the attention at this 
time bestowed upon his hunting of fortune, and Gillray 
and other caricaturists were busy with pen and brush. 
One imposing caricature showed a group upon the 
bank of the Thames at Hampton, with a boat drawn 
up to the shore. The boatman, Torn Tugg, alias the 
Duke, stands hat in hand before the heiress, inviting 
her to take a cruise. Miss Long, grasping large rent 
rolls and an apron full of gold pieces, has Wellesley 
Pole by her side, while Dorothy, surrounded by her 
children, is in the background, crying 

" What, leave your faithful Peggy ? " 

Miss Long refuses Mr. Tugg quite nicely with, " I 
am sorry that I can't be yours, for indeed I find it 
impossible to resist Mr. Pole ! " And that young man 
remarks, " Til tell you what, Master Tugg, you'll not 
be first oars here this little rosebud I intend to pluck 
for myself; therefore be off." The Duke answers 


334 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Miss Long with, "Why, look you, miss, Pll go on 
board of a man-of-war, for I cannot bear to see you 
in the arms of another. Then farewell, my trim-built 
wherry and the Rent Roll, then farewell ! " 

" Princely Amusements," a picture by Gillray, 
showed the Regent dancing with three befeathered 
ladies, the Princess of Wales vanishing through the 
doorway. At a round table, Clarence, York, Mrs. 
Jordan and Mrs. Clarke are playing whist, Clarence 
saying, " I revoke." Upon the mantelpiece is a pole 
surmounted by a cockscomb, up which a little white 
hen is climbing, while a puppy, labelled D. of CL, is 
licking its foot. A portrait of the King as Tony 
Lumpkin, and of the Queen as Old Snuffy, adorn the 

This caricature, about which there was nothing 
lovely, was yet quite refined compared with some con- 
cerning the Princes' doings ; and that such things were 
popular shows how eager was the public to watch and 
criticize these faithless men who had been placed by 
Providence (!) at the head of the nation; they also 
show the depths of degradation to which the Throne 
had sunk when the King and Queen so shared in the 
public disrespect. 

Peter Pindar, Jun., one of the imitators of John 
Wolcot, wrote many verses upon the Tylney Long 
incident, caustic verses of a broad humour, not always 
repeatable, but these three are mild specimens 

" I've illegitimates at home, 

And illegitimates abroad ; 
But now the hour of thought has come 
And I'll reform, I will, by G . 

" ' Angel/ quoth he, ' for such thou art, 
Come be the sharer of my pillow ; 
Take, prithee take, my melting heart, 
And doom me not to wear the willow. 

& * 

H *- 

Cupid v. Cash 335 

" * I am the offspring of a king, 

Yet do I woo thee, gentle maiden ; 
I will not leave thee, no such thing, 
My love for thee shall be unfading/" 

Another satire gave Miss Long's reply as follows 

" Sir, if your passion is sincere, 
I feel for one who is not here ; 
One who has been for years your pride, 
And is, or ought to be, your bride ; 
Shared with you all your cares and joys, 
The mother of your girls and boys. 

" J Tis cruelty the most refined, 
And shows a mean, ungenerous mind, 
To take advantage of your power, 
And leave her like a blighted flower. 

" Return to Mistress Jordan's arms, 
Soothe her and quiet her alarms ; 
Your present differences o'er, 
Be wise and play the fool no more." 

Poor Catherine ! She was too upright to marry a 
man who belonged to another, too prudent to risk any 
disregard of the Marriage Act; but though she chose 
a scoundrel of the deepest dye, would a better fate 
have been hers if she had taken "our Billy"? For 
when that gentleman had spent her money, as he spent 
Dorothy's, he would have had every right to turn her 
adrift, as he did Dorothy, and look out for another 
woman to help support him. That she should have 
refused a prince of the blood in so determined a way 
shows her to have been a person of character, even 
though she was helped to independence by her inevit- 
able popularity, for Lady Granville wrote of her as 
refusing men right and left. But the Prince's per- 
tinacity had shown her that the time had come to make 
a decision, and, alas ! she chose the very worst man 
possible, the Hon. Wellesley Pole, son of Lord Morn- 
ington, Baron Maryborough, and cousin of the Duke 
of Wellington ; one of whom Mrs. Calvert said, " No 

336 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

one rejoices at Mr. Pole's success. He is an ill- 
conditioned and, I believe, not a very wise young 
man." Buckingham avers that Pole was solely in- 
debted to the Duke for his acceptance, and another 
writer said that in "her terror of Clarence she threw 
herself into the arms of Pole." 

The marriage was solemnized in March 1812, and 
the very incidents of the ceremony were typical of the 
rest of her life. She wore a dress which cost six 
hundred guineas and a necklace worth thirty thousand, 
but the man who was ready to share her wealth had not 
even remembered to buy a wedding ring. So the 
noble party in Lady Tylney Long's drawing-room had 
to take a rest in the middle of the ceremony while a 
jeweller was fetched from Piccadilly with a boxful. 
Thus began a disastrous marriage with a man whose 
chief ideas of educating his children was to hire 
French beggar boys, when in Paris, to teach them the 
lowest oaths, his sons doing a corresponding service 
for the French boys. He spent all her money, got a 
mortgage of ,100,000 on her property, and spent that, 
then she had to make him and the woman he lived with 
an allowance out of her pin money of ,13,000. Her 
horror of him grew so intense that her health gave way, 
and at last she began proceedings for a divorce, part 
of the process being to stop his allowance. Upon that 
he returned suddenly to England, went to see her, and 
put her in such fear of her life that " she was forced 
to take refuge in a pantry and to make her escape from 
the house by the assistance of a Bow Street officer," 
said the judge in Chancery, when Pole applied for the 
custody of his children. 

She died a few weeks after, in September 1825, but 
at least she died with her children and sister about 

Cupid v. Cash 337 

her and in the comfort of a home, blessings which 
were not allowed to Dorothy. The disreputable 
Pole passed his later life as a three-hundred-a-year- 
pensioner on his cousin, the Duke of Wellington. 

The failure of the arrangement with the heiress did 
not turn William's heart back to Dorothy, and Buck- 
ingham declares that he wrote to Lord Keith to pro- 
pose for his daughter Margaret Elphinston, who was 
in her own right through her mother, Baroness Nairn ; 
this proposal was, " in the most decided and peremp- 
tory terms, rejected." 

The Duke's further matrimonial quest, of course, 
became public news, and early in 1812 another cartoon 
was published, showing him disguised as King Nep- 
tune and kneeling before a negress, named Venus 
Barton, who carries great green bags full of gold. 
This nymph I have not traced, but she was much car- 
tooned at the time. Her reply to her suitor was much 
the same as that of the heiress. 

" Ha, Massa Neptune, vat you vant ? 
Me quite up to all your cant ; 
For if Miss Golden Long would have you, 
You would not come to me to sue, 
And leave your wife and piccaninnies, 
To come and try to take my guineas." 

It gives real pleasure to know that for years after 
this the Duke of Clarence sought in vain for a woman 
who would marry him. He was credited in 1812 with 
proposing for a sister of the Czar Alexander ; the next 
year it was announced that he had really opened a 
treaty of marriage, and early in 1814 Her Serene High- 
ness, under the title of the Duchess of Oldenburg, was 
met by Clarence on her arrival in the Medway. Now 
every one was sure of the marriage; but the lady 
accepted his attentions, stayed weeks in England, was 

338 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

much caressed a word very popular then by the 
Queen, and then gaily sailed away again. She had 
cultivated a friendship with the Princess Charlotte, 
and had perhaps learned too much about the Princes 
to wish to enter the family. 

Clarence then cast his eyes on a Princess of Den- 
mark, and Peter Pindar asserts that Southey wrote two 
sonnets to her, which William sent as his own produc- 
tion. She, however, refused to have anything to do 
with "a carpet admiral." His other serious attempt 
at marriage was in 1817, when he made love to a young 
lady named Wykeham, the heiress of all the estates 
in Oxfordshire left by Lord Wenman. It was at 
Brighton that the Duke wooed her, telling her that he 
had not a single farthing, but if she would like to be a 
Duchess, and perhaps a Queen, he would be happy to 
arrange it, and he eventually gained her consent by 
sending her the sonnets written for " sweet Anne of 
Denmark," pretending that they were the result of the 
inspiration gained from Miss Wykeham's eyes. 

This may be contemporary embroidery upon the 
fact, but the Queen, the Regent, the Lord Chancellor 
and the Privy Council were all mightily perturbed, and 
her Majesty was furious when Sweet William went 
down to Windsor to announce " the happy event " to 
her. She was sufficiently agitated to put off a Drawing- 
room, and the Regent, who had been encouraging his 
brother, turned his back on him when it came to 

"Do you know Miss Wykeham? She is a fine, 
vulgar miss," wrote W. H. Fremantle to the Marquis 
of Buckingham. " There is nothing talked of but the 
Duke of Clarence having been refused by the Princess 
of Denmark, and having proposed since for Miss 

Cupid v. Cash 339 

Wykeham, who has accepted him. I believe there is 
no doubt of the truth of this, but it is not thought that 
they will be allowed to marry," wrote Mrs. Calvert. 1 

By March Clarence had been persuaded finally to 
abandon Miss Wykeham, and Lord Grenville com- 
mented, "Whether the love-sick youth is to transfer 
his flame elsewhere and where I know not." But the 
love-sick youth had not much chance of doing any- 
thing, for the Regent and his mother took his affairs 
in hand, and before two months were over he was 
betrothed to Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen. The terms 
he at first demanded from Parliament were, said the 
Duke of Kent to Creevey, impossible, being payment 
of all his debts, a settlement suitable for a Prince who 
marries for a succession to the throne, and a handsome 
provision for all his natural children. 

When Clarence was King he made Miss Wykeham 

Baroness Wenman, and she died unmarried in 1870. 


During December and January 1812 Clarence was 
in London except for a week or two spent at Ports- 
mouth, and he did not return to Bushy Park till the 
end of January, so Dorothy had plenty of time to move 
her possessions. Simultaneously with her arrival in 
London arose anew the rumour that she intended to 
take an engagement at Covent Garden, and would 
follow Mrs. Siddons after Easter. She was accredited 
with two London residences, one at Hammersmith, 
which " also became the partial residence of her illus- 
trious friend," and one in Cadogan Place, Sloane 
Street, "where she and some of the younger female 
branches of her family are in future to reside." The 
inference is that for a time the house in Hammersmith 

1 An Irish Beauty of the Regency* By Mrs. Warenne Blake. 

340 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

was occupied by Dorothy and her little girls, and that 
when she wanted a town address she used Cadogan 
Place. Her letters prove that she took a long lease 
of the latter house and furnished it, and that not only 
Mrs. Hawker but the Marchs and their two families 
of children lived there (the General too probably, 
when not on duty), and kept a home for Dorothy when 
she needed it. 

Until the autumn of 1812 Dorothy lived a private 
life, and when in May Jones of Covent Garden wrote 
asking her help for his benefit, she replied, " When it 
is in my power there is none that I would sooner serve 
than yourself, but your very good friend Mrs. Lane 
will explain to you the serious restrictions I am under 
with respect to my never returning to my profession. 
I have therefore only to add that I very sincerely wish 
you every possible success, and such as your merits 
fully entitle you to." 

Who saw after Clarence's little boys of about ten 
and seven years old, now deprived of their mother's 
care, is not revealed ; but probably Jane Lloyd, who so 
faithfully kept Dorothy in knowledge of their doings. 
There is nothing to prove that the latter was forbidden 
to see them, as has been stated, and she certainly 
received visits occasionally from her children. For 
Sophia a chaperone or companion was engaged, prob- 
ably the lady to whom Dorothy wrote as follows from 
Cadogan Place 


" I should be extremely insensible if your very 
kind and considerate letter had not afforded me much 
pleasure. Your opinion of dear Henry, while it does 
him justice, reflects the highest honour on your feelings 

Cupid v. Cash 341 

and observation he is indeed an admirable boy; I 
cannot recollect any obligation you owe me for any 
former expressions of admiration I have made use of, 
'but I trust and feel I shall owe you many in your 
future care and affection towards dear Sophia. I shall 
feel much pleasure in being personally known to you, 
and hope you will accompany my dear boy and girl 
and take a family dinner with us. I will be with 
Sophy by three." 

Sophy by this time was a very gay young person, 
the papers including her name among the notabilities, 
such as " To-day the Duke of Clarence and Miss Fitz- 
clarence arrived in town from Bushy " ; " The Duke 
of Clarence is indisposed at Bushy, Miss Fitzclarence 
left town immediately to attend him " ; " The Duke 
and Miss Fitzclarence are expected in town to-day," 

For some time a lady named Sketchley had been 
helping with Dorothy's children, and from this period 
until her death Miss Sketchley remained attached to 
her and her fortunes; and though she was suspected 
later of intrigue and even of dishonesty, she was the 
only person who remained faithful to the end. She 
accompanied the lonely woman on her tours, nursed 
her in illness, comforted her in sorrow, and took the 
place not only of a friend but of that old nurse who 
had been with Mrs. Jordan for years, and was now pen- 
sioned in a little house at Englefield Green, which 
Dorothy paid for. But the establishment at Hammer- 
smith soon disappeared, for in the summer a new and 
bitter trouble arose. 

Thomas Alsop had left his work, or it had left him ; 
he was heavily in debt, and it was necessary that his 

342 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

affairs should be examined. The result proved that 
he was financially ruined, and Dorothy took much of 
this burden upon her shoulders. Probably to save the 
man from imprisonment she mortgaged part of her 
income from the Prince, and then that she might live 
she had again to go on the stage. So for a scamp like 
Alsop and a giddy fool like Frances, Dorothy had to 
give up the society of her little children, the quiet com- 
fort which the Duke's various payments afforded as 
long as they were continued and a large part of the 
,1500 a year which remained to her; and once again, 
more alone and bereft than ever, take up the weary 
round over the country in pursuit of work. But where 
was that great sum which the Duke had paid over to 
her in discharge of all she had paid and lent during 
twenty years ? 

Boaden and succeeding biographers have placed the 
Alsop trouble in 1814, but its true date was 1812, 
though Frances remained a care to the end. 

Dorothy caused Alsop to insure his life for his wife's 
sake and paid the premium herself, and then cast 
about for some method of providing for him. When, 
in November 1812, Lord Moira was appointed 
Governor-General of Bengal and Commander-in-Chief 
of the forces in India, some good friend found her the 
way. It may have been worked through the Duke of 
Clarence, for M'Mahon, the Regent's Comptroller of 
the Household, had something to do with it. Thus, 
when in April 1813 Lord Moira embarked for India he 
carried in his train a scallywag who called himself one 
of his under-secretaries as an excuse for his presence. 
Dorothy and her daughter Frances never again saw 
Thomas Alsop ; their part was to repair the damage he 
had done a part which Frances entirely repudiated. 

Cupid v. Cash 343 

There can be no doubt but that the Duke was con- 
sulted, personally or through his agent, upon all this, 
and gave what help he could; and that Dorothy's 
representations as to the permanent inroads Alsop had 
made upon her income convinced him that the only 
course was to keep to their bargain that is, to take 
the children back to his own home, and reclaim the 
1500 for their maintenance and the 600 for their 
house and carriage. This would leave Dorothy with 
her own 1500 and the 800 for her daughters. 
Frances's share of that 800 was perhaps pledged to 
her husband's creditors, for during the next few years 
she had no income; the rest belonged to the other 
daughters, while Dorothy's own allowance was also 
partly pledged, though to what extent it is difficult to 
say. Dr. Townsend Young declares that she then had 
but 200 a year left, and that much had gone to pay 
her own debts. She herself speaks of having sunk 
about 300 for Frances's benefit, and does not mention 
what went for Alsop's debts or her own. How- 
ever, to judge of the way in which Dorothy lived in 
France, an income of 200 seems to be more than 
could be accounted for. In addition to the mortgage 
on her income, Dorothy must from time to time have 
paid heavy lump sums upon the Alsop debts, for she 
complained that she had spent all her money on one 
to the exclusion of those who better deserved it. This 
referred to the fact that she had been in the habit of 
making an allowance to her sons when they went into 
the world, and that this had been interrupted by the 
needs of her son-in-law. 

So, seeing what was before her, Dorothy once more 
made use cf Boaden, as usual taking the onus of her 
new departure upon herself, and extolling the Duke 

344 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

for his goodness in relieving her from her promise to 
act no more. 

" Cadogan Place, Thursday. 

" I fear I must have appeared unmindful of your 
many kindnesses in having been such a length of time 
without writing to you; but really, till very lately, my 
spirits have been so depressed that I am sure you will 
understand my feelings when I say it cost me more 
pain to write to those interested about me than to a 
common acquaintance; but the constant kindness and 
attention I meet with from the Duke, in every respect 
but personal interviews (and which depends as much 
on my feelings as his), has in a great measure restored 
me to my former health and spirits. Among many 
noble traits of goodness, he has lately added one more, 
that of exonerating me from my promise of not return- 
ing to my profession. This he has done under the 
idea of its benefiting my health and adding to my plea- 
sures and comforts, and though it is very uncertain 
whether I shall ever avail myself of this kindness, yet 
you, if you choose, are at liberty to make it known, 
whether publicly or privately. I wish I could see you ; 
but it is such a long way for you to come. 

" Yours ever, etc., 


By August 1812 the new Drury Lane Theatre was 
nearly finished, and its opening in the autumn was 
being discussed, so paragraphs appeared at the end of 
the month to the effect that Mrs. Jordan was "pre- 
paring some magnificent dresses for a provincial tour. 
It is more probable, however, that they are intended 
to grace the opening of the new theatre in Drury Lane. 

Cupid v. Cash 345 

But such an actress needs not the outward aid of 
ornament, as she has the powerful recommendation 
of first-rate comic genius." 

She probably was thinking of Drury Lane, for 
negotiations as to an engagement went on for some 
time, falling through at last because she and "the 
Theatrical Committee of Drury Lane are at variance 
as to the terms upon which she is negotiating for an 
engagement, and the lady finds that she can employ 
herself better in a provincial ramble than even at a 
magnificent theatre in the metropolis." 

On October i that autumn Clarence went with the 
Queen and the Prince Regent to inspect the new Drury 
Lane before it opened. One wonders whether any 
painful memory of the old theatre and all he had 
gained in it assailed him ! 

So in the autumn Dorothy went again on tour. In 
September she was playing at Plymouth, her benefit 
on the 28th drawing a brilliant and overflowing house; 
then she went to Portsmouth, and before the close of 
the year she was at Leicester, where the young Mac- 
ready saw her for the first time, and acted under her 
directions. His impressions of her, given in his 
Reminiscences, show her as one absorbed in her work 
while at work, quick to make the very best of the 
material at her hand, and wise in enriching that material 
with her praise. The following, it must be remem- 
bered, was written when she was fifty-one years old. 

"All the attributes of Thalia were most joyously 
combined in Mrs. Jordan. With a spirit of fun that 
would have outlaughed Puck himself there was a dis- 
crimination, an identity with her character, an artistic 
arrangement of the scene that made all appear sponta- 
neous and accidental, though elaborated with the 

346 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

greatest care. Her voice was one of the most melo- 
dious I ever heard, which she could vary by certain 
bass tones, that would have disturbed the gravity of a 
hermit; and who that ever heard that laugh of hers 
could ever forget it? The words of Milman would 
have applied to her : ' Oh, the words laughed on her 
lips ! ' Mrs. Nesbit, the charming actress of a later 
day, had a fascinating power in the sweetly ringing 
notes of her hearty laugh, but Mrs. Jordan's laugh was 
so rich, so apparently irrepressible, so deliciously self- 
enjoying as to be at all times irresistible. Its con- 
tagious power would have broken down the serenity of 
Lord Chesterfield himself." 

This tribute to her qualities Macready followed with 
a description of her method at a rehearsal of The 
Wonder: " I remarked, as I watched this charming 
actress intently through her first scene, how minute 
and how particular her directions were; nor could she 
be satisfied till by repetition she had seen the business 
executed exactly to her wish. The moving picture, 
the very life of the scene was perfect in her mind, 
and she transferred it in all its earnestness to every 
movement on the stage/' 

Macready was nervous, but Dorothy's good-nature 
soon relieved him, and when he said something well 
she paused, apparently in a sort of surprise, " and, with 
great and grave emphasis, said, 'Very well, indeed, 
sir ! ' ' which gave him his perfect self-possession. 
"Where was there a Violante who could, like her, 
excite the bursts of rapture in an audience. . . . The 
mode in which she taught Flora to act her parts was a 
lesson to make an actress . . . the effects these gifted 
individuals produced on their audiences was such as 
succeeding aspirants have never been able to excel." 



Cupid v. Cash 347 

Finishing at Leicester with The Belle's Stratagem, 
Dorothy went further north, and the next place she is 
mentioned as visiting is Newcastle. In January 1813 
she was acting for seven nights at Bath, and on 
February 12 she commenced a two years' engagement 
at Covent Garden by playing Violante in The Wonder. 
The audience hailed her with repeated shouts of 
delight. Over twenty years before the superfine moral 
sense of the great British public, which loved to delude 
itself upon its own virtue, had shown its scorn, hissing 
and abusing her, but that could never happen again. 
What though she had grown fat, and was growing old? 
She was their one comedian for them in England, and 
they welcomed her with all their hearts. However, one 
poor cowardly and cantankerous spirit hissed loudly 
enough to be heard all over England, one that never 
missed an opportunity of railing against the Princes. 
A writer upon The Times had already found that it 
was dangerous to attack royalty too openly, and so by 
crushing Mrs. Jordan hoped to reach Clarence. Truth 
was of no importance ; had not the paper's own repre- 
sentative been punished for telling the truth, and a 
prince's mistress deserved castigating anyhow. So 
this unknown writer used The Times as his shield, 
and flung not one stone but a whole shower of stones 
in the face of the woman whose life had become a 
tragedy of self-sacrifice. The article itself is not 
worth reproducing, but here are two or three para- 
graphs showing its virulence and coarseness * : 

" Here they [the playgoers] had found a woman 
that, after forming her experience by a personal trial 
of almost every possible condition of life, had at 
length crowned her career by a full admission to the 

1 The Times, February n, 1813. 

348 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

knowledge [of high life] which but for her [Pother- 
wise] had been hopeless; a woman who, like Lady 
Wortley Montagu, had been admitted into the secrets 
of harems and palaces, seen their full exhibition of 
nude beauty and costly dissoluteness; the whole in- 
terior pomp of royal pleasure, the tribes of mutes and 
idiots, sultans and eunuchs, slavish passion and lordly 
debility. The price paid for this indulgence was prob- 
ably in both cases equally peculiar; but in both the 
reward was knowledge, not attainable on lighter terms. 
We are not then to wonder that Mrs. Jordan's return 
should excite the utmost extravagance of popular 
curiosity. The sentiment has been the same before 
she was born to delight princes. . . . 

" This woman, to whom nature has had so few 
reserves, whose 'proper study,' as Pope says, 'has 
been man/ whose opportunities of study have been 
furnished, in the course of a diligent life, from every 
rank and every age; who has adopted Shakespeare's 
conception in its fulness, and come ' home to the 
hearts and the bosoms of men,' with such unremitting 
assiduity; who has, eminently above all other women, 
deserved the renowned motto of ' Humani nihil 
alienum? even she failed last night to give pleasure. 
... Is not the public forced to find the alternative 
for this degraded woman's appearance in the decline 
of life either in her own vile avarice or in the viler 
breach of stipulation by those who should never 
abandon her to poverty ? We cannot believe that the 
latter is the case; and if the former, what share of 
public approbation should be permitted to one for 
whom it is impossible to feel any share of personal 
respect ? Whose sons and daughters are now strangely 
to move among the honourable people of England, 

Cupid v. Cash 349 

received by the Sovereign, and starting in full appetite 
for royal patronage, while their mother wanders, and 
is allowed to wander, from barn to barn and from town 
to town, bringing shame on the art which she practices, 
and double shame on those who must have had it 
in their power to send her back to penitence and 

It was an unusually bitter and cowardly attack, even 
at a time when men like Cobbett and The Times writer 
still believed in chivalry, but were always careful 
before exercising it to knock the woman down. 

Many papers took up the cudgels in Dorothy's 
defence, among them The Morning Post, The News, 
The Sun, The Theatrical Inquisitor and Bell's 
Weekly, and the playgoing public showed its resent- 
ment in the theatre. When, some nights later, 
Dorothy was playing Nell, and one of the characters 
addressed to her this sentence, " You have an honest 
face and need not be ashamed of showing it anywhere," 
the play was stopped by shouts of approval, followed 
by three rounds of applause, which so overcame her 
that she burst into tears. 

Dorothy heard of this article in The Times, but did 
not trouble even to see it; however, the Duke must 
have been troubled, and it appears as though his fac- 
totum, Barton, drew Dorothy's attention to the duty ( !) 
she owed her princely light-o'-love. Barton reproduced 
the letter she then wrote to the papers, and which was 
widely circulated when, ten years afterwards, he had 
to make a public defence of the Duke, and he intro- 
duced that letter into his defence in the following 
words : " Reflections were thrown out against both the 
Duke and herself; whereupon Mrs. Jordan, indignant 
at the attack upon His Royal Highness, wrote the 

350 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

following letter, which was published in the papers of 
the day." The italics are mine; she had, of course, no 
cause to be indignant on her own account. That some 
such negotiation went on is proved by the fact that 
Dorothy's dignified and restrained letter did not 
appear until more than a week after the accusatory 

" SIR, 

' Though I did not see the morning print that 
contained the paragraph alluded to in your liberal and 
respectable paper of yesterday, yet I was not long left 
in ignorance of the abuse it poured out against me; 
this I could silently have submitted to, but I was by 
no means aware that the writer of it had taken the 
opportunity of throwing out insinuations which he 
thought might be injurious to a no less honourable 
than illustrious personage. 

"In the love of truth, and in justice to His Royal 
Highness, I think it my duty, publicly and unequivo- 
cally, to declare that his liberality towards me has been 
noble and generous in the highest degree. But, not 
having it in his power to extend his bounty beyond the 
term of his own existence, he has, with his accustomed 
goodness and consideration, allowed me to endeavour 
to make that provision for myself which an event 
that better feelings than those of interest made me 
hope I shall never live to see would entirely deprive 
me of. 

' This, then, sir, is my motive for returning to my 
profession. I am too happy in having every reason to 
hope and believe that, under these circumstances, I 
shall not offend the public at large by seeking their 
support and protection, and, while I feel that I possess 

Cupid v. Cash 351 

those, I shall patiently submit to that species of un- 
manly persecution which a female so particularly 
situated must always be subject to. Ever ready to 
acknowledge my deficiencies in that respect, I trust I 
may add that I shall never be found wanting in 
candour and gratitude, nor forgetful of the care that 
every individual should feel for the good opinion of 
the public. 

" I am, sir, 

4 Your much obliged, humble servant, 


From that time until into June Dorothy was acting 
at Covent Garden. On June 22 both she and Mrs. 
Siddons,who had then retired from the stage, appeared 
to swell the receipts for the benefit of the Theatrical 
Fund at the new Drury Lane, which had opened the 
previous October. Mrs. Siddons was Lady Randolph 
in the play of Douglas, and Dorothy was Beatrice in 
The Panel, the results being satisfactory to the extent 
f 983. At the end of July Mrs. Jordan went to 
Ryde to open the new theatre there. " We have heard 
that it was filled every night; as Mrs. Jordan per- 
formed there it is not to be wondered at." From Ryde 
she should have gone to Brighton where she had 
played several times before, and once more had been 
obliged to insist upon her " usual terms." In this plan, 
however, she found herself face to face with a diffi- 
culty, and the Brighton visit was put off until 
December. For, just at the time of her engagement, 
the Regent, the Duke of Clarence and her daughter 
Sophia were at the Pavilion, while the papers an- 
nounced that the Queen, with two of the Princesses, 
intended to join the party. The awkwardness of such 

352 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

possible meetings was too much for Dorothy, and so 
the engagement was postponed, and she went instead 
to Portsmouth, Guildford and other southern towns. 

It was a position to make the gods laugh ! The 
father and daughter inmates of a palace " The Prince 
of Orange and Miss Fitzclarence led the dance at the 
Regent's ball at Brighton. The Duke of Clarence 
danced with great vivacity" the mother travelling 
from town to town to earn a living, and shrinking from 
showing herself in the same place as the man to whom 
she had given everything, and with whom she was 
forbidden to communicate in any way. 

When, at the beginning of January 1814, the Duke 
of Clarence went on a visit to Holland, and started on 
the long drive to Deal as early as 7.45 in the morning, 
" his numerous family " were gathered on the steps of 
his house in Stable Yard, St. James's Palace, to take 
an affectionate leave of their loving father. There is 
no hint anywhere that the mother, who loved this same 
family passionately, was ever blessed on her going out 
or her coming in by a sight of their happy faces 
watching her. 

From the autumn of 1813 until the spring of 1815 
Dorothy was acting constantly. Whitehaven, Mar- 
gate, Brighton, Sheffield, Carlisle, Blackburn, Bir- 
mingham, Brussels and many other places unnamed 
were visited by her. In January 1814 she was again 
at Bath, and from February to June, barring an interval 
of severe illness in March, she filled her engagement 
at Covent Garden, acting on April 20 in a new comedy, 
Debtor and Creditor > said to be the last new part she 
ever took. 

In spite of age and size her popularity continued, 
for she had secured the hearts of the people. "To 

Cupid ?7. Cash 353 

praise Mrs. Jordan is an act of officious superfluity, yet 
we cannot refrain from testifying the uncommon 
delight of the audience and ourselves at her persona- 
tion of Rosalind; the triumph of mind over matter in 
this wonderful performance was complete. Her voice, 
manner and look were all in perfect conformity with 
the character; the depredations of time and the dis- 
advantages of person are forgotten in our admiration 
of that naivete, vivacity and irresistible expression of 
nature which characterizes every tone and motion. 
There is no actress whose loss will be more generally 
felt or less easily supplied." (Theatrical Inquisitor^) 
But, in spite of such brave words from her friendly 
critics, Dorothy knew that she could not work much 
longer; her fits of illness probably brought on by 
over-exertion and exposure to all the draughts and 
hardships of stage life recurred with alarming fre- 
quency, and she was too old for the only parts she 
could play most successfully. Yet for need's sake she 
persevered. A letter from Margate in the summer of 
1814 gives an impression of her life when in this town, 
which had always heartily welcomed her, and it showed 
her still affectionately regardful of her friends, the 
Lloyds, at Teddington. 

"Margate, August 24, 1814. 


" I hope this will find you as well as I wish. I 
enclose the cap for your dear mother, to whom and 
the rest of the family I beg my love. This place is 
very pleasant now. I concluded my engagement last 
Saturday, which turned out very well. I am anxious 
to hear of John's business. The libraries are crowded 
every night; it is the only public amusement. I have 

354 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

gone there every night and have met with so much 
attention and respect that were both embarrassing and 
pleasing. Seats for me and my friend are kept every 
night, and when it is known whom they are for nobody 
will attempt to sit in them. I have not been very well ; 
I have had spasms across my kidneys very painful 
indeed. I have just heard from dear George and 
Dora, who is going on very well. Adieu, dear Jane, 
for the present." 

The cap was a yearly gift, first sent at the time when 
the Lloyds took the children to educate, as is shown 
by a note sent to Frances all those years before, 
enclosing the first such present, with Mrs. Jordan's 
affectionate regards and adding, " I hope to have the 
same pleasure every year on the same occasion." 

Directly after the date of the letter Dorothy sailed 
from Margate for Ostend on her way to Brussels, from 
which place she planned to go to Lille and Paris. But 
this plan was not carried out; she returned to Margate 
on September 19, giving her friends an animated 
picture of the gaiety of Brussels. Was it sentiment 
which took her to the sociable Belgium town ? It is at 
least a coincidence that Clarence had, on his way home 
in the spring of the year, spent a month there. 


" Children are earthly idols that hold us from the stars." DOUGLAS 


"To the winds, to the waves, to the woods I complain, 

Ah, well-a-day, my poor heart ! 

They hear not my sighs, and they heed not my pain, 
Ah, well-a-day, my poor heart ! 

"To the sun's morning splendour the poor Indian bows, 

Ah, well-a-day, my poor heart ! 
But / dare not worship where I pay my vows, 
Ah, well-a-day, my poor heart ! " 

From Song sung by Dorothy Jordan. 

WHILE acting in Stratford in October 1814 Dorothy 
wrote to the manager of the theatre at Blackburn, offer- 
ing to play there one or two nights toward the end of 
the month, "having experienced much kindness and 
attention during my short [earlier] stay at Blackburn 
. . . this time a clear half/' and she asked that the 
reply should be sent to Sheffield. But at Sheffield she 
had an attack of illness and only played one night, an 
illness brought on by her anxiety about her two boys, 
George and Henry, who had with twenty-three other 
officers got into military trouble. 

George the eldest had been much out in the Penin- 
sula, having in 1811 had his horse shot under him at 
Fuentes d'Onoro, been wounded and taken prisoner, 
though he contrived to escape in the confusion. On 
his return home he was promoted to a troop in the 
loth Hussars, and went out again in 1813, his brother 
Henry accompanying him in the same regiment. Their 
chief officer was Colonel George Quentin, who appar- 


356 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

ently possessed little of the martial spirit, so little that 
on the return to England twenty-five of his commis- 
sioned officers preferred four charges against him, con- 
sisting of neglect and abandonment of duty, leaving 
some of his divisions without orders or support when 
attacked by the enemy, entirely leaving his regiment 
in one battle, and allowing a relaxed discipline. 

The result of these charges was a court-martial for 
the Colonel in October 1814, with a view, not to judg- 
ing him fairly, but to re-establishing his character 
and punishing his detractors. The trial was a pure 
mockery, the feeling in military high quarters being at 
that day perhaps it is in this that the men should 
suffer all things gladly, even being given over to death 
and imprisonment by an incapable officer. The first 
charge was proved, the others were dismissed, and 
Colonel Quentin was reprimanded, then acquitted and 
finally reinstated at the head of his regiment. The 
twenty-five inferior officers were kicked out, and one 
by one were drafted into other regiments, their swords 
being forfeited. This was attributed to the influence 
of the Duke of York, Commander-in-Chief , backed up 
by the Prince Regent, both of whom fell under strong 
public obloquy because of their partiality. 

The two Fitzclarence boys George was then 
twenty and Henry two years younger were the 
especial object of their uncle's wrath, being not only 
turned out of their regiment, but banished to India. 
Even that was not enough, for the Regent's man, 
Colonel M'Mahon, wrote to the superior officer under 
whom they sailed, that he should treat them with 
marked disrespect and severity. This gallant officer 
answered that he "had received the colonel's letter, 
and that he should have returned it with the contempt 

Those Dorothy Loved 357 

it deserved, but that he chose to retain it that he might 
have it in his power to ex-pose him, should such unfair 
and offensive conduct be repeated, and that no British 
officers would be dictated to in their line of conduct 
with those under their command." 

Dorothy loved these boys so much that worry over 
the trial, which occurred towards the end of October, 
was quite enough to incapacitate her from work, and 
so to lose her a considerable sum of money. The 
following letter alludes to this as well as to the affairs 
of Alsop, whose insurance money she was still paying, 
though he had been gone from England a year and a 
half. The insurance society had evidently demanded 
a larger fee because of the extra risk of life in a foreign 

"Whitehaven, November nth, 1814. 

u Mv DEAR [Edward March], 

' This moment only have I received both your 
letters, therefore you will not be surprised that I grew 
uneasy. The other half of the cheque you will have 
received by this time ; so far all is right. It was from 
Howard's own mouth that I got the disagreeable 
information, that I was liable to pay the additional 
insurance on Alsop's life. I need not tell you, my 
dear [Edward], how much obliged I should be to you 
if you would regularly arrange this very disagreeable 
and unfortunate business for me. I trust that the 
heavy addition will be -prevented, and I am truly sorry 
that you have not been comfortable. What has been 
the matter? 

" I have been very ILL, but do not let them know of 
it at home. So much so, that I was obliged to give up 
my engagement at Sheffield after playing only one 

358 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

night, which was doubly unlucky from the prospect 
there was of great success. I lose 150 by it. I am 
doing very well here, but the theatre is not large 
enough. God bless you all ! 

" Your affectionate, 

"D. J. 

"P.S. I believe I shall go to Edinburgh but 
Newcastle first." 

March must have written her some letter of com- 
plaint, perhaps upon the ever-pressing subject of 
money, or even more likely upon Mrs. Alsop, who was 
then living in Cadogan Place, and who about this time 
committed an unforgivable sin in Dorothy's eyes. 

In this the biographers once again show their casual- 
ness about dates, indeed, scarcely a fact they assert 
can be accepted in point of time without corroboration. 
For instance, they all pack into one year the Alsop 
ruin, and the banishment of the Fitzclarences, yet the 
two events were just two years apart. Boaden actually 
gives cause and effect in the matter of Frances Alsop, 
and quite unconsciously puts the cause later than the 
effect, making her letters to the Duke the result of 
having to support herself upon nothing. 

But as a matter of fact she still was, as she ever had 
been, her mother's care, and was being supported by 
her. However, being more or less deprived of money 
for extravagance she was miserable, for she was a 
spendthrift in every way. Casting about for a means 
of securing what she wanted her thoughts naturally 
went to the Duke of Clarence, and resulted in a series 
of " virulent and violent letters," by which she hoped 
to get money. She may have enjoyed writing the 
letters, but he naturally objected to receiving them, 

Those Dorothy Loved 359 

for Frances knew all there was to know about the 
monetary transactions between him and her mother, 
and was in a situation both to make pressing demands, 
and to say very pointed things. 

The useful Barton and a witness named Wilkes 
went to Cadogan Place and interviewed Mr. March 
(Dorothy being in the North at the time). That March 
was known to be in monetary difficulties is shown by 
the fact that he was suspected of being the instigator 
of these letters. However, he managed to clear him- 
self entirely, and gave all the necessary assurances. 

He, of course, wrote to Dorothy on the matter, and 
the following is one of the letters sent in return by the 
distracted mother. 

" Carlisle, Saturday, December 3rd, 1814. 

" I was prevented by illness, both of body and mind, 
the last time I wrote, from saying one half of what it 
is necessary should be now perfectly understood with 
regard to Mrs. Alsop. You say that in order to assist 
her you must spend 30 or 40. I am sorry for it, as 
it will not be in my power to reimburse you ; and trust 
the love and duty you owe to your own family will 
interfere, and point out to you the injustice of it. You 
talk of Mrs. A.'s desire to go to her husband. If it 
were affection or duty that prompted her I should pity, 
though even in that case it would at this time be out 
of my power to forward her wishes ; but this is not the 
case, as you must know. I have at present melancholy, 
but far better claims on me claims that, to my bitter 
remorse, I have almost deprived myself of the means 
of affording to two amiable children by having lavished 
them on one. She never could have been sensible of 
the sacrifice, or I should not have met with such 

360 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

ingratitude. For the last time, dear [Edward], shall 
this subject ever employ my pen, and I trust you will 
give it the attention I feel due to it. In the event of Mrs. 
A/s going abroad, I must sink another 100 per year 
to the 260 (independent of the additional insurance 
on A/s life), making in all near 400 a year. He has 
no employment, and how will he support her? And 
am I to have the additional misery of thinking that she 
may be starving in a foreign land? I therefore, for 
the last time, most solemnly declare to her, through 
you, that these are the last and only propositions that 
shall ever be offered. THAT she shall go to her uncle 
in Wales, when I will pay 40 a year for her board and 
lodging, allowing her 50 a year for clothes, till such 
time [as] her husband may be able to maintain her 
abroad, when every exertion shall be made to send her 
out. If she refuses this, I here swear, by the most 
heart-breaking oath that presents itself to my tortured 
mind, that * may I never again see those two sacrificed 
young men, if I ever (if possible) think of her again, 
as a child that has any claim on ME.' And I shall be 
led to doubt the affection of any one who may, by a 
mistaken motive, endeavour to make me break an oath 
so seriously and solemnly taken. If she has an atom 
of feeling, and wishes to regain any part of my affec- 
tion, she will instantly agree to this ; if NOT the 90 a 
year shall be regularly paid to her so long as I have it 
to give. Let her not look on this as a banishment, let 
her look on the fate of two gallant young men, sub- 
mitting to a cruel exile without a murmur, whatever 
they may feel. I shall send a plan to Mrs. Williams, 
and shall be under the disagreeable necessity, my dear 
[" Edward], of withdrawing from you the little addition 
I could have wished to continue to you. When every- 

Those Dorothy Loved 361 

thing is adjusted, it will be impossible for me to remain 
in England. I shall, therefore, go abroad, appro- 
priating as much as I can spare of the remainder of 
my income to pay my debts. And now, my dear 
[Edward], for the last time on this cruel subject, 
adieu ! I write this from a sleepless pillow. God 
bless you all! I shall be home by the i5th or i6th. 
I have been obliged to give up all my engagements. 
Love to all. 

" Your affectionate, 

"D. J. 

" For the little time I shall be in C[adogan] Place, 
after the departure of all happiness; tell dear Lucy 
that I will pay her three guineas per week, for myself, 
Miss S., and the two servants, finding our own tea, 
sugar and wine. Be silent on the subject of my going 
abroad, or it may embarrass me." 

The postscript of this proves that Lucy Hawker 
was the actual or temporary (Dora being ill) house- 
keeper at Cadogan Place, just as a postscript to a 
later letter shows that Dora March was settled there. 
Thus Dorothy's three eldest children with their 
belongings both Hawkers and Marchs had several 
children were living in a house leased and furnished 
by Dorothy. Consistent self-sacrifice is a virtue 
carried to its extreme, and therefore a mistake. If 
Dorothy's nature had not been so " loving and giving," 
if she had in her turn demanded, her children might 
have had more independence and backbone, they 
might not have taken with two hands and refused to 
give with one. Sorrows had come so thickly upon 
her, that she thought the loss of her two eldest 
sons must mark the supreme misery. Poor thing ! 

362 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

it was well that she could not see what was still to 

The uncle who was to receive Frances was 
Dorothy's brother Nathaniel, living then quietly in 
the little country place, Trelethyn. Taking into 
account his gentle, retiring nature, he would have been 
worthy of pity had he really been saddled with the 
company of such a rip. Alsop eventually secured the 
post of chief magistrate in Calcutta, and held it to 
his death in 1826, living there with a white woman 
by whom he had three children, and for whom a 
subscription was raised when he departed this life. 

By this letter it is obvious that Frances was no 
longer drawing from Coutts's bank her 200 a year; 
either it was not being paid by the Duke, or it was 
ear-marked for the creditors. Had she still got it her 
mother would not be offering to raise with difficulty 
fyo a year for her support. It also shows that 
Dorothy was in desperate need of money, as, though 
she made 150 by an engagement, she could not 
repay the sum of 30 expended by March on her 
daughter's behalf; and, to pay the fyo a year for 
Frances, she must withdraw "the little allowance" 
she would have wished to continue to her favourite 
son-in-law. Could a person enjoying an independent 
income of over 2000 a year (according to Barton) and 
earning as much again, have been so troubled over 


It must be noted that even then Dorothy looked 
upon France as a possible resort, where she could get 
rest from the demands made upon her, and also by 
being there in the worst parts of the year improve her 
health. So thoroughly was she looking forward to 
this that she was offering first to one son-in-law and 

Those Dorothy Loved 363 

then to the other the chance of taking the house, in 
which both lived, off her hands. 

There had evidently been a suggestion on the part 
of Frances Alsop that she should go out to India and 
join her husband, and either she or some one else had 
added the idea that she should go in the same ship 
as her half-brothers .George and Henry. This Dorothy 
knew would not be feasible, though she wrote to 
George about it. Her next letter deals with this point, 
a letter which followed quickly upon the other. 

" Carlisle, Sunday, December 4th, 1814. 

" MY DEAR [Edward], 

" When I received your letter relative to Fanny, 
I immediately wrote to George, without endeavouring 
to prejudice him in the smallest degree, but was not 
at all surprised at the enclosed answer, which you may 
show [to her] or not, as you shall judge best. You 
have, of course, received my last. I will spare what I 
can to send her to Wales, and enable her uncle to 
receive her comfortably. Whenever Alsop is in a 
situation to provide for, or maintain, her abroad, I will 
exert my utmost to send her to him. 

All personal discussions on such subjects are doubly 
painful, therefore, my dear [Edward], to prevent such 
I take the opportunity of repeating this by letter, and, 
in future, I have only to refer Fanny to my last letter 
to you. If she and Mrs. Williams should prefer living 
in any cheap part of France, they may do it to more 
advantage. It is very probable that I shall find it 
necessary to live there the best part of every year. 
Dear George's account of everybody in Cadogan 
Place, gives me great pleasure. I could wish Mrs. 
Alsop and Mrs. Williams would make up their minds 

364 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

before I return. I shall be back, if those dear boys 
go soon, by the I5th or i6th. God bless you all. 
" Yours affectionate, 

(Signed) "D. J." 

The letter from Captain George Fitzclarence 

"London, December 2nd, 1814. 


" Nothing is yet settled when we start ; but we 
are to go out in Admiral Boulton's ship, who goes out 
to take command in India. I am now certain to join 
Lord Moira; but, if anything is said about it, the Duke 
of York will give me positive orders to join my horrid 
regiment. 1 I really think we go out in the happiest 
way, and ought, if we choose to stay long enough, to 
make our fortune. My father, poor soul, has suffered 
much, but is now better; his anxiety actually made 
him very ill, but both go in the same ship, which is 
a great comfort. Although we are a long way from 
each other (700 miles), yet I hope, should any good 
situation offer, to bring Henry to Calcutta. The girls 
have made up their minds to it very well. March did 
not mention anything about Fanny; but I cannot take 
her on board the King's ship. It will be impossible ; 
I would not shackle myself with her. M'Mahon 
gives me the most certain assurances of Alsop being 
provided for. I will do all I can; but I cannot take 
Fanny out with us. It will cost 3000 to get us out to 
India where is all this to come from ? " 

Here the letter breaks off unfinished. 

1 George had been transferred to the 24th Light Dragoons, then in 
India, but hoped to be retained in the suite of Lord Moira. 

Those Dorothy Loved 365 

George Fitzclarence ended this part of his letter as 
most of Dorothy's children seem to have ended their 
affectionate intercourse with her, on the " money " 
note : "Where is all this to come from?" He prob- 
ably knew that his mother would be ready to sell her 
frocks, her house, her comfort and her health to help 
in such a difficulty, and he knew also that his father, 
"poor soul," was too helpless, too extravagant, too 
penniless to give them so much money. Between her 
fits of illness Dorothy was working at the top of her 
strength, and what for? That she might get free of 
Alsop's difficulties, settle Frances Alsop, smooth the 
path of Edward March, and find money to help "two 
gallant young men " to go out to exile in comfort. 

The receipt of George's letter raised vague fears 
in her mind, and she at once wrote to the people who 
acted as go-between with her and the Duke, the kindly 
family who were always ready to soothe her with news. 
She does not write to the Duke, even epistolary com- 
munication had been stopped, and yet it is evident that 
her heart was filled with sympathy and affection for 

" Mrs. Jordan at Carlisle to Miss Lloyd, Teddington, 


"Sunday, December 6th, 1814. 

" I do not know, my dear Jane, how to acknowledge 
or value sufficiently your kind, considerate and 
friendly letter. I write this from my bed by all 
accounts the dear Duke has been very ill, he has 
indeed, for I can judge of his heart by my own, 
formerly we supported each other, but when I reflect 
what those dear gallant boys have done, I feel nothing 
but never mind, have they not acted according to 

366 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

their feelings of honour, and what can a man do more ? 
I do not understand where Henry is to be at least 
700 miles from his brother, but where? I shall be back 
on the 1 5th or i6th of this month. I am not able to 
continue my engagements. I have kept my bed many 
days to the moment of my going to the theatre. My 
nights have been literally sleepless, and if it was not 
for a few hours' sleep in the day I think my mind and 
memory would have suffered very much. . . . Miss 
S. is all kindness and attention. Dear, affectionate 
Frederick has told me of your kindness in constantly 
writing; your account of Sophy's conduct gives me 
much pleasure. Tell dear Eliza and Mary that I will 
write soon. Love to your dear mother. 

' Yours affectionately, 

"D. JD. 
"Going to bed with a raging headache." 

In the next letter she offers the house to the General, 
and repeats her intention of going abroad if she cannot 
go on with her work. 

" Carlisle, December 6th, 1814. 


"I shall be home by January 1 I5th or i6th. 
Truly sorry am I to be under the necessity of disturbing 
dear Dora [then recovering from a confinement] ; sooner 
than do so, if I was not very unwell, I would take 
lodgings. The enclosed to the General contains a 
proposition, similar to the one I made you, concerning 
the house, which, if it does not appear eligible to him, 
I shall dispose of as soon as possible ; and, if not able 
to follow my profession, I shall immediately go 
abroad. God bless you ! 

"D. J. 

1 A mistake for December. 

Those Dorothy Loved 367 

" P.S. I trust in God you will exert yourself in 
pointing out to Fanny the absolute necessity of her 
prompt compliance with the proposal ; in which case, 
she shall ever find me her mother and friend." 

The last letter in this series shows the beginning of 
the shadow which was to cover and blacken the end 
of her life. 

" MY EVER DEAR [Edward], 

" I thank your kind and considerate letter and 
reap all the consolation from it that my present melan- 
choly situation will allow of. I inclose the notes. I 
have just written to dear Dora. God bless you all. 

"D. J." 

One may imagine Edward March helpful, agree- 
able, ever fascinating to Dorothy, giving her sympathy 
and kindly words, yet adding his petition to those of 
all the others. " I am in such and such a difficulty, 
it is very little, if you would help me, simply a 
temporary affair; you know you may trust me to repay 
it," etc. And then, grateful for his sympathy, trusting 
and believing in him she sends him the notes for which 
he begs, either bank notes or notes of hand, the space 
for the amount left blank ! 

Mrs. Alsop had no intention of going to Wales, 
nothing but London with its life and variety would 
suit her, and when her brother-in-law, indignant at the 
visit of Barton which she had brought upon him, for- 
bade her ever again, while in his house his house, 
modest man ! to write another letter of the kind, she 
packed her things and left her mother's home for 
good. It is to be hoped that this happened before 
Dorothy's return to London, and that she had not to 

368 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

endure the pain of seeing her go. Frances intended 
to have amusement at any cost, so she " assumed a 
conduct which cannot but be deeply regretted." The 
result of which conduct was shown when she was acting 
in the autumn. 

Dorothy's reputation was sufficient to gain Mrs. 
Alsop an engagement at Drury Lane, which began on 
October 18, 1815, and during which she acted Rosa- 
lind five times and the Country Girl once, " and that, 
probably was as much as she could venture before 
Christmas." As one contemporary critic gently wrote : 
" Of her figure it would be unjust at present to speak. 
She appears to be far advanced in the style in which 
ladies wish to be who love their lords." And Frances's 
lord had been out of England two and a half years ! 

In March 1815 Dorothy saw her boys leave her for 
ever, though mercifully she was not aware of that. 
From that time the records of the few remaining 
months that she spent in England are almost non- 
existing. She was acting in Bath the early part of 
January, and it was then that Charlton, the stage 
manager, suggested that she should take the part of 
the old maid in the play of that name, her answer 
being that she would not do so, she had done it once 
as a frolic for her benefit, but would not act such parts 

After this the account of her engagements ceases, 
not because the public had grown tired of her, for she 
had many applicants for her services, but that before 
her sons went away she could think of little else and 
wanted to be in London, and afterwards she was too 
prostrated by grief to be able to work. 

In May 1815 Bannister, the man with whom she 
had so often acted, announced his determination to 

Those Dorothy Loved 369 

take his leave of the stage in a benefit performance 
on June 17, and he wrote to Dorothy asking her to 
act for the last time with him. Her answer, written 
on May 3, will explain why she had to refuse, and 
shows incidentally how many were her chances of 
work if only she could have seized them. 

"May the 3rd. 

" Your letter came at the time Sir Gilbert, my 
physician, was with me, or I would not have sent your 
servant away without an answer, for it was my inten- 
tion to have written to you at all events this evening. 

"/ am very ill, and in the sincerity of my good 
wishes request you to give up all thought of me. My 
health is in so very precarious a state that I have not 
been two days together out of my own rooms since my 
return home : so situated, I have been obliged to 
refuse many applications, including one very pressing 
one from the Caledonian Society. 

" I have been obliged to give up one of considerable 
advantage that was to have commenced at this very 
time, and I have, too, some reason to fear that I shall 
be under the necessity of forfeiting one still more so ; 
that, too, was to have begun at the end of this month, 
and to have concluded in the middle of June. You 
perceive how unfortunately I am situated, for if I 
should be well enough to play on the ist of June in 
London, I should be able to fulfil my engagements in 
the country, if not the consequence would be that I 
must disappoint you. Added to this my friend and 
medical adviser is very anxious that I should give up 
every hope of playing this summer, and as soon as I 
am able, to repair to the seaside, from which I felt 
some relief last year. 

A A 

370 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

" Do me the justice to believe that, independent of 
my own sufferings, it is a real mortification to me to 
be deprived of the what shall I say, pleasure or 
pain ? of witnessing the last exertions of one of the 
most genuine performers of the age. May every 
happiness attend you. 

' Yours sincerely, 


It was on May 19 that she wrote a short and signi- 
ficant note to Mrs. Lloyd. Putting the two letters 
together, what is to be thought of Harrington's 
inspired paragraph asserting that she earned 7000 
this last year? 

He was a most subservient receiver of favours, and 
never stinted that gratitude which he hoped would 
encourage other favours to follow. In his white- 
washing of the Duke he had the effrontery to assert 
of Dorothy's income "that the very last year she 
remained in England brought her a clear profit of 
near 7000. I cannot be mistaken in this statement, 
for my authority could not err on that point. The 
malicious representations, therefore, of her having 
been left straitened in pecuniary circumstances were 
literally fabulous" etc. 

The following note is a pungent satire upon the 
biographer's extravagant assertion 


" I return you the one-pound note with many 
thanks; best regards to you all. 

1 Yours sincerely, 


" 10 o'clock night, I9th May, 1815." 

Those Dorothy Loved 371 

How could Dorothy have earned 7000 a year? 
an engagement for six or seven nights for which she 
received 150 would take two or three weeks to com- 
plete, for she only acted two or perhaps three evenings 
a week. At that rate, if she worked without cessation 
the whole year round she would only have gained 
2500. Who was Harrington's unassailable authority? 
By whose influence did he further assert that Dorothy 
acted, when tired of the stage and all its ways, simply 
because she was infatuated with it, and how could he 
tell that the Duke had no concern directly or indirectly 
with the cruel and disastrous circumstances which 
caused the last catastrophe? 

I fear Barrington, like some other gentlemen, did 
protest too much and show too plainly where he learnt 
his lesson, for Clarence was hard put to it to find 
apologists when all the circumstances of Dorothy's 
death were made public. 

By this time her third son Frederick, said to be by 
far the best looking of the five boys, had gone out 
into the world to prove his courage, and this sixteen- 
year-old boy was in one of the greatest battles that 
the world has ever witnessed. Dorothy had gone on 
that revivifying trip to the sea of which mention has 
been made earlier, and from the unnamed town she 
wrote to Miss Lloyd in answer to a letter telling her 
of the results of Waterloo. It should be noted that 
she wrote to ask a simple thing about the whereabouts 
of her son, and again wrote, not to the Duke who had 
the information, but to her old friend, who was 
evidently in constant touch with him and with her 

372 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

"(Postmark) June 24th, 1815. 


" I return you many thanks for your very kind 
attention. I wish I had seen the paper, and my mind 
is for the present much relieved, but what I have 
suffered for these few days past is beyond description. 
I have not yet recovered [from] it, but ought [to be], 
and indeed [am], most thankful to God for his pre- 
servation of that dear object of my constant anxiety. 
I had a most charming letter from [him] only two 
days before the battle. He desires me to send him a 
small canteen that I have got for him, and [I] should 
be obliged, dear Jane, if you will find out how I can 
send it, and where I am now to direct to him. This is a 
delightful spot, but I have really suffered great anxiety 
in it, but I will trust in God's mercy and hope for 
happier days. My blessing [on] the dear children and 
best regards to all your family." 

There was one more and a very significant letter 
which was written from Cadogan Place early in 
August, and which again shows that even in distress 
she was not allowed to apply personally to Clarence, 
though he only could have helped her. The letter 
does not give the year, but there can be no doubt as 
to when it was written, as John Pyne Coffin was on 
foreign service until July 1814, when he returned from 
Genoa, where he had been under the command of 
Lord William Bentinck, and was given the rank of 
Brevet-Colonel. During this year in England he 
left again towards the end of 1815 he got into money 
difficulties and his appeal for help was passed on to 
Dorothy, which points to the probability that his debts 
had had something to do with the young Fitzclarences, 

Those Dorothy Loved 373 

who, knowing their father's usual impecunious state 
and their mother's loving generosity, took the line of 
least resistance and enlisted her sympathy. She paid 
the money and procured the freedom of the unmanly 
soldier from the sponging-house in which he lan- 
guished, receiving a foul reward, as her letter shows. 

" To the Rev. Thomas Lloyd, Teddington, 
"Cadogan Place, 7 o'clock, August 3. 


" I some time since wrote to you inclosing a 
letter from Col. Coffin, and requesting you to procure 
from the Duke of Clarence an answer bearing a fair 
testimony to my assertion that H.R.H. had nothing 
to do with the money transaction that took place 
between the Col. and me when he was detained in a 
sponging-house in London. I am now the more 
anxious for the Duke's answer, having received a very 
insolent and ungrateful letter from the Col., insinuat- 
ing that I had received the money from the Duke and 
took advantage of Col. Coffin in applying to him for 
a second payment this is an injustice that I will not 
sit down quietly under. 

" I have been very ill indeed, and am at this moment 
so weak that I can scarcely guide my pen ; before I go 
from town I hope I shall be able to see Jane, to whom, 
and Mrs. Lloyd, I beg to be kindly remembered, and 
now believe me, my dear friend, yours sincerely, 

" D. JORDAN." 

It was August 3 that Dorothy wrote the letter to 
Mr. Lloyd about Col. Coffin, and when she left town 
it was to go to Margate to appear for the last time on 
any stage. 

374 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

A statement was made from memory many years 
later by Edward March saying that she left England 
in August, but John Barton asserts that he went to see 
her in September of that year, and as he could fortify 
himself with documents this was more likely to be 

She must have returned home sometime before the 
end of August, returned to endure that further dis- 
astrous blow which was to exile her from England. 

There has been much mystery made of this, because 
no one dared at the time to tell the truth about it; 
March, Barton and the Duke being the chief people 
implicated. The first from weakness, the second from 
misplaced astuteness, and the third from callousness. 
Each one of these three could have cleared the matter 
lip, and each one was too much to blame ever to do 
more than deal vaguely with the fringe of the trouble 
and endeavour to persuade those who wanted to know 
that the only real fault lay in Dorothy's hysterical 

As a matter of fact Dorothy came home to find 
Edward March in despair, asserting that difficulties 
had so crowded upon him that he was ruined. 
Dorothy had heard this story from others, from Alsop, 
from George and Henry, from Clarence and from 
Frances Alsop, and had suffered so cruelly at each 
calamity, that she was past bearing it over again with 
anything like philosophic calm. 

She was overwhelmed, and when she asked March 
how far she was implicated, she was seized with a 
terror which was great enough almost to upset her 
reason. For this man to whom she had always given 
trust and affection had repaid her magnanimity by 
filling in the notes she had sent him with sums quite 

Those Dorothy Loved 375 

different from those he had named to her ! He 
appears reluctantly to have brought out one note of 
hand after another, each signed by her name and 
promising payment of a comparatively large sum, until 
she at last she, the indomitable, the succourer of 
others succumbed, herself ruined with the rest of 



"As a mother Mrs. Jordan will behold her children anxiously and 
attentively watching over her declining powers, blessing herself as she 
surveys their fondness and affection, that fortune and her prudence 
have rendered them thus cheerful, happy and independent. The noble 
sentiments flowing from a liberal education will teach them to reverence 
the mother, without sprinkling the tender nomination with any unworthy 
reflections on the father." Written in 1798. ANON. 

" We have never seen anything more interesting than the gentlemanly 
propriety of his regret." 

IT is impossible to convey the tragic effect of this 
calamity upon Dorothy. March had failed her; the 
one man upon whom she thought she could rest her 
trust, and to whom she had given an affection springing 
from esteem. From her girlhood she had been sur- 
rounded by people who asked support from her; she 
had had to keep mother, brothers, sisters, children, 
and the man usually called her protector who 
begged the most gracious and public protection from 
the effects of his sins. In March she thought she had 
found a comprehending, sympathizing comrade; she 
now proved him as weak as the others and as dis- 
honest; she had given him all she could, and now he 
stood confessed another parasite. His creditors were 
around him, demanding satisfaction and payment of 
the bills that Dorothy had given him. 

Who would help her ? to whom could she turn ? Not 
General Hawker; he stood aloof in the Court circle, 
though his wife lived in Dorothy's house. There was 
but one person, and that was the Duke ; yet she could 
not approach him directly, it must be through his agent 


Death the Releaser 377 

the man whose interest lay in keeping his master 
free from all care on her account. So she wrote to 
him and he went to see her, finding her I quote his 
words "in tears and under much embarrassment, 
from a circumstance that had burst upon her, as she 
said, 'like a thunderstorm/ She found herself in- 
volved to a considerable amount by securities, which 
all at once appeared against her, in the form of bonds 
and promissory notes, given incautiously by herself to 
relieve, as she thought, from trifling difficulties, a near 
relation, in whom she had -placed the greatest con- 
fidence. Acceptances had been given by her in blank, 
upon stamped paper, which she supposed were for 
small amounts, but which afterwards appear to have 
been laid before her capable of carrying larger sums." 

Dorothy put herself into Barton's hands, perhaps 
hoping that the " forbearance " which she had shown 
to the Duke four years earlier would now be extended 
to her. This, however, was not Barton's plan for his 
master; he was a man of business, and he regarded 
this simply as a matter of business. So he went 
through the statement of debts, finding them paltry 
enough, the total amount being under 2000. Yet for 
so long had Dorothy staggered under the accumula- 
tions pinned upon her by her " friend " and relatives, 
so horribly had she suffered recently, and so certain was 
she that she could no longer act, that this unexpected 
calamity was the last crushing defeat. Being told that 
the holders of the bonds were demanding satisfaction, 
she saw before her nothing but that terror from which 
she had rescued Coffin, a sponging-house. 

Barton uttered no word to reassure her. She had 
accepted the princely Duke's method of repaying 
what he owed her, and the Duke demanded the full 

378 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

pound of flesh from her. When Dorothy showed her 
terror of immediate arrest to this man, declaring that 
she wished to act honourably to all, and even to save 
March's wife and children from utter ruin, Barton 
listened and explained that she could not possibly 
treat with the creditors unless she kept her liberty. 
He deliberately turned her mind to France, and when 
she betrayed that she had thought of going there he 
caught at and fostered the idea. At once he set to 
work to make it easy for her ; drew up a list of creditors 
and promised to settle with them all on her behalf, but 
on what conditions that glibly explanatory gentleman 
does not reveal. In any case he assured her that ten 
days would see things put right, and that after a little 
stay on the other side of the Channel she could return 
in comfort. Whether March was to join with him in 
putting matters straight he does not say; March's own 
explanation seems to throw the blame on Barton, 
whom, however, he does not mention by name. Each 
of these two conspirators, in fact if not in intention, 
blames the other for Dorothy's enforced and tragic 
banishment. Barton says that March but he, too, 
avoids mention by name refused to give her an 
assurance that she knew the worst and that no further 
debts were hidden from her; and March asserts that 
Barton never made the slightest attempt to pay off any 
fraction of those debts for 2000. Thus, these two 
people and Clarence, who knew all that was done 
and let it be done played into each other's hands, 
sent Dorothy abroad under false pretences, and kept 
her exiled there. 

In his explanation, given in 1824, March says: "I 
can positively assert that never during her lifetime was 
one shilling paid towards liquidating the securities in 

Death the Releaser 379 

question; nor was it urgent that it should be done, 
because the creditors for the most part personal 
friends well knew the upright principles they had to 
depend upon." This was a very different story from 
that which he had told her in 1815, when he was 
thoroughly frightened and knew that there was danger. 
It was not true either, for Dorothy herself said that 
the greater number of these creditors were "utter 
strangers " to her. 

But Barton coldly and cruelly thought it as well to 
clear Dorothy out of his master's path ; for there is no 
doubt that her continued public presence kept memory 
alive concerning Clarence's past, and not only did 
much to prevent his matrimonial schemes from coming 
to realization but kept him continually unpopular. In 
addition to this, Dorothy was during these years endur- 
ing much sorrow, which disturbed the Duke's kind 
heart and made ineffectual tugs at his purse-strings, so 
it was best to get rid of her. Thus Barton made it 
easy for her to go to France, and made it impossible 
for her to return. He asserted years afterwards that 
to the day of her death Dorothy received ^2000 a year 
from the Duke, leaving it to be inferred that she had 
that amount to spend. He knew, however, that the 
daughters' allowances were deducted from that sum, 
being paid directly through the bank, and he knew that 
the greater part of the residue was mortgaged. In 
addition, he was not the man to arrange any payment 
without first handling the money, but he is careful not 
to say what arrangements about that he made with 
Dorothy. It is safe to assume that this would mean 
a further reduction from her income. When we con- 
sider these things, how much can have been left? 
Probably not even the 200 a year mentioned by 

380 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Townsend. At the interview at Cadogan Place it is 
probable that Dorothy insisted that the sums promised 
her daughters or some sum, at all events should be 
for the future regularly remitted, for in 1816 we find 
Frances, for whom Dorothy had intended with great 
difficulty to spend 90 a year, again drawing an income 
from Coutts's Bank. 

There was the house to consider, the lease of which 
had not run out, while the furniture was hers. Both 
sons-in-law had refused to buy it, and March could 
not afford to live in it. So she sent to a man named 
Charles Wigley, who kept some exhibition rooms in 
Spring Gardens, to ask if he would purchase the 
furniture. He, needing the advice of an expert, took 
with him a Mr. Fisher, auctioneer and father of the 
actress Clara Fisher, to see what was in the house. 
Fisher said that if a purchaser wanted the things with 
the house, carpets fitted, etc., they were worth 300; 
but if they were to be removed he would say a hundred 
less, though he might go as far as 220. The friendly 
Wigley here saw the chance of a bargain ; he discussed 
the matter privately with Dorothy, assuring her that 
she could not get more than a hundred guineas for her 
things, and that he was ready to give that amount. In 
her worry and ignorance of business she agreed, and 
he got the remainder of the lease of the -premises 
thrown in! Fisher, on hearing of the matter later, 
assured the writer of The Great Illegitimates that the 
whole was well worth five hundred pounds. 

This was Dorothy's last act before hastily leaving 
the country. Her terror of prison had been shown 
thirty-three years earlier when the villain Daly had 
threatened her with it and caused her to fly in poverty 
from Dublin, and now her mind was so racked with 

Death the Releaser 381 

anxiety and sorrow that when a man of Barton's know- 
ledge and position urged her to save herself from that 
dreaded penalty, how could she do aught but take his 
advice, believing it to be most honourably well meant? 

Barrington, writing a dozen years later, and repeat- 
ing the lesson he had been taught, would have us 
believe that the Duke was solicitous for Dorothy's 
comfort, and insisted upon her taking Miss Sketchley 
with her, and being escorted by Colonel Hawker, a 
brother of the general. This may have been true, but 
Miss Sketchley had been Dorothy's companion for 
years, and was in no way responsible to the Duke, who, 
if he did thus far interest himself, shows that he had 
taken an active part in the affair, and let her go 
unnecessarily, rather than relieve her trouble. 

Dorothy went to Boulogne, and took a small cottage 
at Marquetra, in a quiet lane opening to the sweet 
Vallee du Denacre, where the trees were green and 
shady, and whence, after three minutes' walk through 
the cornfields, she might look over the tumbling waves 
of the Channel. About twenty-five years later Douglas 
Jerrold lived for a time in " Mrs. Jordan's old house," 
and in the little room where her listless fingers had so 
sadly pulled the strings of her guitar, and where she 
waited with slowly dying hope for Barton's letter which 
never came, the dramatist wrote his play, The Prisoner 
of War. By that time the two little cottages had per- 
haps been converted into one and the garden terraced, 
for when Barrington saw it shortly after Dorothy's 
death he pronounced it very small and semi-detached. 
Madame Ducamp, her landlady, a gardener's widow, 
dwelt in the adjoining cottage. She, being old, had a 
girl who worked for her. This girl, named Agnes, fell 
in love with Dorothy and was ready to do anything for 

382 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

her, telling Barrington that she waited upon that 
charming lady as if she had been a princess ; also how 
" that dear unfortunate English lady " passed her time 
in nervous expectation of letters from England, and 
that on the days when the post came in she was utterly 
miserable; that her one consolation was music, and 
Agnes added that sometimes she sang Madame to 
sleep. Dorothy's poverty made a great impression 
upon the young cottage girl, "the economy of that 
charming lady was very strict " ; once she had been rich 
and magnificent, but then she was very poor indeed, 
and, though so very poor, she "paid her rent like a 

The futile Barrington, hearing all this, glibly asserts 
that this only meant that she had become careless of 
money and affected poverty for a whim. He pub- 
lished his memories of Dorothy between 1826 and 
1830, after a public furore had been created concerning 
Dorothy's last days, and his aim was to clear the Duke 
of the well-deserved stigma which his unimaginative 
and stupid business man, Barton, had caused publicly 
to be fixed upon his character. Barrington would have 
believed all he was told by the Prince's man, but if the 
Prince was his informant he believed on his knees, 
devoutly and abjectly. 

Poor Dorothy, waiting, waiting in that little cottage 
for the letter from Barton telling her that it was safe 
for her to return, while he was happily conscious that 
she was safely away ! The days passed : ten, twenty, 
thirty days, ten weeks, nearly ten months and Barton 
made no stroke of the pen to release her. And the 
Duke permitted this refinement of cruelty, yet he was 
solicitous for her comfort ! He knew that her life was 
bound up in her children; that never to see them would 

Death the Releaser 383 

be a prolonged anguish; he knew all her circum- 
stances, but he raised no finger to bring her back into 
the warmth of love and friendship. For ,2000 he 
sold her to sorrow nay, for less; had he but caused 
Barton to write and reassure her she would have come 
back. Is it to be wondered at that when things were 
known people who had admired the great actress were 
hot with indignation against him; that even men like 
Creevey could speak of him in 1820 as " that Prince of 
Blackguards, brother William; " that her very creditors 
cried shame upon him? That nothing that Barton 
could write or say afterwards could wipe the Duke 
clean of this stain. 

From Marquetra Dorothy wrote a tender letter of 
forgiveness to March, promising that when she 
returned to England Dora and her children might 
always rely upon her to find a home. But March, 
without being a bad man, was cursed with littleness of 
mind, and, from sheer petty annoyance, helped to grind 
her into the dust. 

While Dorothy was at Marquetra, her boy Frederick 
and her girl Sophia were in Paris, and she received 
the following boyish, generous letter from Frederick, 
who had just learned of the Marchs' calamity. It was 
probably their presence in the French capital which 
caused her to leave Marquetra for Versailles. From 
the time of going abroad Dorothy borrowed her Welsh 
sister-in-law's name and called herself James, and her 
son's letter is directed " To Mrs. James, Post Office, 
Boulogne, France." 


" My dear Sophia has been very low-spirited 
since she received my ever-dear Dora's letter, and she 

384 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

took the earliest opportunity to speak to Mrs. Arbuth- 
not, who would speak to her husband about it. I am 
afraid we shall not come home for this long time. I 
long to see dear Lucy. The Arbuthnots are very kind 
to me. I have got a room in Paris. Hale is better 
behaved. I have had a horse shot. Tell all about the 
[Marchjs. If you want money for them, don't ask me 
for it, but take my allowance for them; because, with 
a little care, I could live on my father's till their 
business is a little settled. Now do as I ask you 
mind you do, for they have always been so kind to us 
ALL, and if I can make any return I should be a devil 
if I did not ; so take my next quarter, and, as you may 
want to give them some, do that for my sake. I am 
very well. God bless you. 


" P.S. Sophia will write to you on Thursday. 

How long she stayed at Versailles is not known, 
perhaps until the end of the year ; then she went on to 
St. Cloud, where she certainly had the companionship 
of Miss Sketchley. At St. Cloud she engaged rooms 
in the Maison du Sieur Mongis, a house in the square 
which was "large, gloomy, cold and inconvenient"; 
probably a typical French place, which even to-day 
seems bare and chill to the English visitor. The 
garden was overgrown with weeds and shadowed by 
two mournful cypresses. As for her rooms, they were 
shabby and comfortless " a small old sofa being the 
best-looking piece of furniture." Here again she 
waited, and waited vainly, for that letter which was to 
call her home. 

Death the Releaser 385 

That she did receive letters is undoubted, but the one 
upon which her life was staked never came that one 
which would tell her that it was safe to return and to 
see again the children, the loss of whom was break- 
ing her heart. One dunning letter she answered on 
February 22, 1816, being careful, it may be noted, to 
put no address but Paris on it. 1 It is addressed to 
W. Vickery, a hairdresser of Tavistock Street, Covent 

" SIR, 

"The date of this will, I hope, explain what 
might appear neglect. I am very sorry that my bill 
should have so long remained unpaid; it was not my 
intention to have remained here so long, but a most 
painful and distressing illness for these three months 
past has left me in a very weak state, and I fear I shall 
not be able to undertake so long a journey till the 
spring, at which time you may rest assured of receiving 
the amount. I am very grateful for your friendly 
forbearance, and indeed will always consider myself 
obliged to you for your gentlemanly conduct towards 
me on every occasion. 

" I remain, sir, your obliged frd., 


At St. Cloud, as at Marquetra, Dorothy again lived 
for the post, and also lived with extreme economy; 
indeed, the proprietor of the house thought her so 
badly off that on one occasion he offered her a loan, 
while wondering at the beautiful diamond ring she 
wore. Waiting hopelessly for that which never came, 

1 The original of this is one of the many in the collection of Mr. A. M. 

B B 

386 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

her brooding mind started a new alarm. Perhaps 
March had not disclosed all her liabilities, and the 
reason she was kept so long abroad was that there were 
other large sums which had been hidden from her and 
which could not Be met. So she wrote to March, 
imploring him to set her mind at rest on this point. 
His only answer seems to have been in the nature of, 
" I have told you once; there is nothing more to say." 
She could not be sure he spoke the truth, and she 
asked him to assure her on oath that there were no 
more. This he refused, and his refusal made her think 
that all she feared was true. 

Years later, when, as has been said, Barton had to 
make his public defence of his master, he threw the 
whole blame of her continuance abroad upon March, 
saying that all she " required in order to set her mind 
at ease on the extent of the demands that might be out 
against her was that the person who had plunged her 
into all these difficulties should declare on oath that 
the list he had given to her included the whole. This 
the party from time to time refused to do." 

In January 1816 Dorothy sent Miss Sketchley to 
England to receive her quarterly income or the 
remnant of it and to get from Edward March the 
required assurance. Miss Sketchley had seen her 
employer's sufferings, either all or part of the time she 
was in France, and was naturally indignant that such 
anguish should be allowed to continue, and perhaps 
she showed her indignation too keenly, for March and 
his wife self-absorbed resented it. They allowed 
their jealousy of her to weigh against the happiness of 
their mother, and March absolutely refused to comply. 
Certain, then, that Dorothy's suspicions were true, 
Miss Sketchley told them that Mrs. Jordan intended 

Death the Releaser 387 

to keep her address secret, and that their letters must 
be sent through the post office at Paris. March pre- 
tended in his explanations that he then heard for the 
first time that she was going to call herself Mrs. James, 
yet he must have known that she had done so from 
the time she went to Marquetra, as Frederick's letter 
proves. He also pretended that this was the first he 
had heard of any idea that Dorothy doubted his state- 
ment, but Barton's words quoted above, and this letter, 
written by Dorothy on the return of Miss Sketchley to 
St. Cloud, to Barton, do not confirm this. The date 
is January 16, 1816. 


" I have forborne writing to you that I might occupy 
as little of your time as possible. My spirits are in 
so disturbed a state that my weak hand is scarcely able 
to trace the still more feeble effort of my mind. . . . 
He [March] assures you that I am in possession of the 
names of my creditors, to whom he has made me 
answerable by filling up those blank acceptances that 
I so unguardedly gave him, and yet declines making 
an oath to that purpose; this has caused me much 
uneasiness, for it appears to me vague, if not equivocal. 

" I can solemnly declare that the names I sent to you 
are the only ones I know of, and the greater part utter 
strangers to me. 

" I was in hopes that, not only out of humanity and 
justice to me but for his own sake, he would have done 
it voluntarily, as it would have been the means of 
removing in a great degree the unpleasant impressions 
such a determination might cause in the minds of those 
who still remain anxious for his future well doing. I 
do not command or enforce it, but entreat it as the only 

388 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

relief he can give to a being he has almost destroyed. 
. . . What interpretation can be put on his refusal? 
If he says he will not take the oath it is cruel; and if 
he adds that he cannot, what is to become of me? Is 
it in nature possible for me to return to an uncertain 
home, with all the horrors I have suffered there fresh 
in my mind, with the constant dread of what may be 
hanging over me ? I really think, under those circum- 
stances, that when my presence would be absolutely 
necessary, that it would not remain in my own power 
to be able to encounter such misery. It is not, believe 
me, the feelings of pride, avarice, or the absence of 
those comforts I have all my life been accustomed to, 
that is killing me by inches; it is the loss of my only 
remaining comfort the hope I used to live on of from 
time to time seeing my children. The above asser- 
tion I can convince the world of, if driven to it, by 
leaving the bond (all I have) to the creditors, and the 
Duke's generous allowance to the decision of the law. 

" It is now, and ever has been, my wish to save 
Edward March, for even now I feel a regard for him 
I cannot conquer ; but surely I may expect some return 
of gratitude from a man who, by a single act, could 
relieve those fears that are nearly insupportable. The 
idea is shocking. 

" Excuse this long letter ; but I am sure you will see 
and feel the motives of the urgency. Once more, dear 
sir, forgive and excuse, 



Barton uses this letter as a means to fasten the cause 
of her lingering agony for another six months upon 
March. But what did Barton do to help her? He did 

Death the Releaser 389 

absolutely nothing! He seems not even to have 
written to March on this painful matter; for March 
declared that he knew nothing of this letter until eight 
years later when he saw its accusing words in the 
columns of the daily papers. He was childishly, 
weakly cruel to a woman to whom he owed much; 
Barton was intentionally cruel with the method of a 
man who regarded the woman as of no more import- 
ance than a piece of broken furniture, a thing to be 
thrown away and forgotten. 

In his defence March states that he did repent and 
wrote to Dorothy, but that as her letters were directed 
to Mrs. James, and as her place of residence was kept 
a secret, she never received the letter. It seems easier 
to believe that that letter was never written, as March 
certainly lied concerning his knowledge of the assumed 

So, by the callousness of those to whom she had 
given her life, Dorothy was left alone with Miss 
Sketchley until she died, with no word from the Duke 
to cheer her solitude, no sight of her younger children 
to warm her heart, no comforting visit from those 
daughters who had always been glad partly to live 
upon her exertions. 

It was during the spring days of 1816 that Helen 
Maria Williams, translator of Humboldfs Travels and 
writer of many books, learned what a distinguished 
neighbour she had, and went four times to see Dorothy 
in her rooms at St. Cloud, holding a long conversation 
with her on each occasion. So impressed was she with 
the privilege that she wrote an account of each meeting 
immediately after, and later, upon Miss Williams' 
death, these accounts were lent to the writer of The 
Great Illegitimates for reproduction. 

390 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

In these conversations we find anything but a 
diseased or even a relaxed mind. They are full of 
memories of the stage and of people tending to verify 
and amplify facts mentioned in other books ; they show 
clear criticisms upon current and past events, and a 
great interest in French theatricals and dramatists, 
and sometimes Dorothy alluded to her own past, and 
gave much information about her brother George's 
widow, Maria Bland. She also presented Miss 
Williams with a copy of some verses which she had 
written, under the name of Anthony Acerbus, upon 
All the Talents Greedy Rout. At the fourth meeting 
arrangements were made for another, but the day 
before it should have taken place Miss Williams 
received the following letter 


" I am not unmindful of the appointment made 
for to-morrow, but circumstances have intervened 
which will preclude me the pleasure of a meeting; in 
addition to which, my spirits are so depressed that I 
should prove but a melancholy companion for one so 
full of energy as yourself. With every sentiment that 
can be dictated by warmth of friendly attachment, 
believe me, I remain, dear madam, 

" Yours very truly, 

"D. J." 

A fortnight later Miss Williams went to St. Cloud, 
and was told at the hotel that the health and spirits of 
Mrs. Jordan threatened the worst results, and that 
orders were given for the admission of only two people. 
So she returned to Paris, feeling that she would never 
see her more. A little later she heard that Mrs. Jordan 
was dead and buried. 

Death the Releaser 391 

Thus it may be seen that Dorothy's death was not 
sudden, that those around her knew her to be seriously 
ill, and yet no child, Fitzclarence or other, went to 
see her or soften the last moments. 

About the circumstances surrounding her death there 
are many stories, which cannot all be credited, though 
which are true and which false it is hard to decide. 
Sir Jonah Harrington's account is the one generally 
followed, and as he paid a special visit to St. Cloud 
to gather information there at first hand it must be 
reliable. The irritating thing is that he names the 
master of the house where Dorothy lodged simply 
" Mr. C ." But as the master of the house was 
Jean Jacques Mongis there is at once some doubt 
thrown upon the agreement between the tragedy as he 
heard of it and as it really happened. 

An unknown gentleman who was in Paris at the time 
gave another account, and a London confectioner, who 
had removed to Paris and by chance found that she 
was at St. Cloud, adds another and sensational story 
to that of the last few weeks of her life. This person's 
narrative is discounted, however, by the fact that, being 
in difficulties some years later, he, returning to Eng- 
land, demanded of the Duke of Clarence the repay- 
ment of twenty pounds which he said he had advanced 
to Mrs. Jordan at St. Cloud, which payment though 
he produced letters supplicating the loan in question 
was refused, as he could not produce a receipt. 

This man's story of the end was that on going to see 
her he was put off with evasive answers, and retired; 
that shortly after he received a letter from Dorothy, 
begging him to come at night and stand beneath a 
certain window of her rooms; that from this window 
she talked with him for two hours, telling him that she 

392 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

stood in want of the necessities of life, that she was in 
a state of complete captivity and surrounded by spies. 
She took the loan of eighteen or twenty francs which 
he offered her, making him promise to return the fol- 
lowing day, and naming a place where they might meet 
without interruption. The second night he went he 
gave her twenty pounds, promising to help her to 
escape to England in ten days 5 time. Keeping the 
appointment, he learned that she had died the pre- 
ceding day. To this story he added that when he 
applied for the repayment of the loan he saw two or 
three individuals enjoying posts in a great establish- 
ment, whom he recognized as having held the situation 
of spies or keepers over Mrs. Jordan. 

I am inclined to regard the whole of this story as a 
blackmailing fiction, though it is true that Miss 
Williams was put off by Dorothy "owing to circum- 
stances which had intervened," and was refused admis- 
sion a fortnight later. However, no suspicion was 
raised in her mind, and Barrington heard nothing of 
the sort. 

The story of her death, as told by him, and of her 
burial, related by an English resident in Paris, are in 
substance as follows 

While in the Hotel Mongis Dorothy showed the 
most restless anxiety for intelligence from England; 
her hopes rose as every post was due, and when she did 
receive letters they raised many emotions in her mind. 
At last she became more anxious and miserable than 
usual, being physically ill, so that her skin was dis- 
coloured, and from morning to night she lay sighing 
upon the sofa. Then came an interval during which 
she received no letters, and her trouble seemed too 
great for mortal strength to bear. 

Death the Releaser 393 

One morning she looked very ill, and eagerly asked 

Mr. C before the hour of delivery to go to the 

post office. On his return she started up and held out 
her hand to receive the missives. He told her there 
was none. She remained a moment motionless, 
looked towards him with a vacant stare, held out her 
hand again as by an involuntary movement, instantly 
withdrew it and sank back upon the sofa from which 

she had risen. Mr. C ran downstairs to find Miss 

Sketchley, but she had gone out, so he returned to 
Dorothy's apartment. He then saw a change that 
alarmed him, for she gazed at him steadfastly, but 
neither spoke nor wept ; her face flushed darkly, then 
grew livid, and she sighed as though her heart were 
breaking. The frightened man knew not what to do, 
but in a minute he heard her breath drawn hardly, even 
sobbingly. Thoroughly terrified, he leaned over her 
and discovered that she was dead. 

This man was perhaps a subordinate in the house, 
who told Harrington what he saw but not what trans- 
pired after. Miss Sketchley returned to find Mrs. 
Jordan dead as she believed, and wrote to Mrs. 
Hawker who was just recovering from a confinement 
at her daughter-in-law's house at Woodchester that 
her mother had died after a few days' illness. Mrs. 
Hawker was very shocked, but felt unable to go on 
a long journey. However, Miss Sketchley found that 
her friend was not dead but in a prolonged faint, and 
three days later she wrote again to the effect that Mrs. 
Jordan was still alive but very very ill. Now Mrs. 
Hawker prepared to go to St. Cloud, but before her 
preparations were complete dear, deliberate daugh- 
ter ! a third letter arrived announcing that Mrs. 
Jordan was really dead. 

394 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

A Sunday paper made an announcement, which was 
copied by The Times on Monday, July i, 1816, regretting 
to state that the favourite representative of the Comic 
Muse died at St. Cloud ; that she had been seized with 
an inflammation of the lungs, which in all probability 
would have proved fatal, but that the immediate cause 
of death was a ruptured blood vessel, caused by a 
violent fit of coughing. The next day The Times 
contradicted this, saying that the lady who was with 
Mrs. Jordan had despaired of her life, but that severe 
blisters had been applied, and hopes were entertained 
of her recovery. 

The next absolute fact, and one which effectually 
disposes of Boaden's suggestion that Dorothy did not 
die at this time at all, is that her death was registered 
at the Mairie at St. Cloud. As early as nine o'clock 
on the morning of July 5, 1816, two gentlemen pre- 
sented themselves before the Maire, declaring that 
Dorothee Bland, Veuve Jordan, had died at the Maison 
du Sieur Mongis at two o'clock in the morning of that 
day : these were Jean Jacques Mongis, aged fifty-three 
years, proprietor of the Maison du Sieur Mongis, and 
Louis Amable Sciard, Capitaine d'infanterie, Chevalier 
de TOrdre Royal de la Legion d'Honour, aged twenty- 
six, both living in St. Cloud. They registered her as 
forty-eight years of age. 

This document is still in existence, and can be seen 
through the proper authorities. 

The accounts of her burial range from refusal of 
Christian ground in which to lay the body, to a proces- 
sion of two hundred of the most respectable parish- 
ioners of St. Cloud, headed by the Mayor in official 
robes, and a French minister pronouncing an oration 
over the grave. Between these comes the sensible and 

Death the Releaser 395 

convincing report given by a gentleman who was still 
living in Paris in 1830, and who attended the funeral. 
He declares that none of the few who knew her while 
near Paris ever heard her make the slightest allusion 
to the cause of her mental anguish, or utter one syllable 
in the shape of a complaint or reproach that would in 
the remotest degree assign blame; that she would 
rather pine in silence than breathe her wrongs and 
sufferings to the world. To this he added that the 
acuteness of her malady was considerably alleviated 
by the unvarying assiduity and watchful care of Miss 
Sketchley, who had been her companion for a long 
series of years. 

With this preliminary, he tells how a Mr. Greatorex, 
the owner of a hotel in the Rue Pelletier, Paris, went 
often to St. Cloud, and as he knew that the supposed 
Mrs. James was in reality the renowned Mrs. Jordan, 
he was in the habit of calling upon her, being received 
with the amiable manner and " unaffected condescen- 
sion that were universally allowed to be peculiarly her 

own. 53 

The last time he saw her he noticed that she seemed 
Jo be ill, but did not imagine her to be near death. 
Two days later he went again to inquire after her 
health, and was told, to his surprise, that she was dead, 
and that already arrangements were being made for her 

The interval of two days only seems too small, for 
Dorothy must have been extremely ill for some days, 
if the newspapers and Harrington's account are to be 
believed. However, this account was not written at 
the time, or by Greatorex himself. 

Horrified, and finding that, in addition to her sorrow 
at the loss of Dorothy, Miss Sketchley, " surrounded 

396 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

by strangers and unassisted by any compatriot," had 
to carry out all the business details of a foreign burial, 
Greatorex hurried back to Paris to find a Protestant 
clergyman. The haste of the French over interment 
would undoubtedly have led to the commitment of the 
body to earth without the rites of Christian sepulture 
had it not been for this friend's prompt action ; and it 
was probably this expressed opinion which, later, gave 
rise to the popular belief that Dorothy had been buried 
with as little ceremony as a dog in the corner of a 

The English Chaplain to the Embassy was unable 
to attend, so Greatorex found a Rev. Mr. Marron, 
officiating pastor at the French Protestant Church of 
the Oratoire, and also collected as many as eight other 
Englishmen (including a William Henshaw, statuary, 
of Mortimer Street, London, and some one named 
Keith), with all of whom he returned to St. Cloud. 
Then he approached the Maire and impressed upon 
him the fame of the dead woman, upon which that 
gentleman attended " in his official costume." Thus, 
" the ceremony attending Mrs. Jordan's interment, 
although plain, was in every respect decorous, the 
coffin being covered with light blue cloth, lined and 
embellished with white furniture. After the office had 
been performed, a cold collation, consisting of fruits 
and various wines, was prepared by order of Miss 
Sketchley for the pastor and gentlemen who had 

So says one who was present, and who had no reason 
to praise or blame any one concerned, and this seems 
the most trustworthy account of the end of a woman 
who, in her life, spent herself upon those she loved, and 
in her death was left by those loved ones entirely alone. 

Death the Releaser 397 

Upon the greater number of her children no blame 
could fall. Two were in India, five were under fifteen, 
others may have been purposely kept in ignorance con- 
cerning the anxiety which enwrapped her when abroad. 
Yet she must have written often to them. But no 
excuse can be raised for the inaction of the Marchs, 
the Hawkers, the flighty Frances, and especially the 
Duke and his agent Barton. These knew everything 
these people who, by their joint or separate actions, 
had conspired to play on her fears of arrest and to 
encourage her idea of going abroad, and then had one 
and all refused to do the things they had promised, 
which would have enabled her to return with happiness 
of mind. They had got all they could hope for from 
her, and when they had carelessly reduced her to such 
a position of debt that she could by no possibility add 
further to their incomes, they seemingly washed their 
hands of her. 

Sophia Fitzclarence, entirely dominated by her 
father, had been more or less estranged from her 
mother, and cannot be absolved from blame ; Mary, the 
next girl, was not eighteen, an age when she would 
not have been allowed indeed would not have had 
sufficient knowledge to travel alone to see her mother, 
and would certainly not have been given any help in 
doing so. 

General Hawker went over to St. Cloud, says 
Boaden, " and I believe arrived there about three days 
after the funeral." If he really went, what did he do ? 
Did he make himself known to the authorities? make 
an examination of the events? take possession of the 
effects? pay up all outstanding expenses? settle with 
Miss Sketchley? arrange for a stone to be put over 
Dorothy's grave that future generations might know 

398 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

where she lay and show the world that her family at 
least respected her memory if it neglected iier when 
alive ? 

No ; the gentleman of " punctilious honour and 
integrity," as Barrington describes him, did none of 
these things. If he went it must have been secretly, 
simply to satisfy himself that Dorothy was dead, cer- 
tainly not to interfere in any of her affairs or to help 
Miss Sketchley. Would he have done differently had 
he known that all the story of bitter neglect would 
dribble through bit by bit to the public for a period of 
ten years, and again and again raise anger against the 
Duke of Clarence, and lay him open, when he became 
King, to intermittent and bitter reproaches as to the 
way in which he had treated "the hapless Jordan"? 



" Thalia, thou ! I guess thy cause of woe, 

Thy comic mask lies there thy feet beneath ; 
The rivers of thine eye their banks o'erflow, 

The favourite child of smiles thy Dora, lies in death. 

Her smile was by a thousand smiles repaid ; 

Her art was nature, govern'd by thy laws, 
To acts of good, full oft she lent her aid ; 

Her talents gained her thus, with hands, the heart's applause. 

Such virtues not in vain for mercy plead, 
Though fate the roseate crown with cypress twine ; 

Yes, gentle shade ! thy kind benignant deeds, 

Before the throne of grace, in golden letters shine." 

JOHN O'KEEFE on Dorothy Jordan. 

" Nay, then I'll be gone, for fear of being bail, and paying her debts, 
without being her husband." WYCHERLEY : The Plain Dealer. 

IN her burial as in her death Dorothy Jordan was 
dependent upon strangers. The ground in which her 
body lay was chosen by Greatorex, and strangers, 
more important for kindliness of heart than for rank, 
paid for the stone which marks the spot. A gentle- 
man, named Henry Woodgate, of Dedham, Essex, 
had with his wife seen Dorothy shortly before her 
death, and he ordered a dark granite slab, writing to 
Genest, the great theatrical authority, to send him an 
inscription for it. This inscription, both in Latin and 
in English, is as follows 

" Sacred to the memory of DOROTHY JORDAN, who, 
for a series of years, in London as well as other cities 
of Britain pre-eminently adorned the Stage. For 
Comic Wit, sweetness of voice, and imitating the 


400 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

manners and customs of laughing maidens, as well as 
the opposite sex, she ranked second to none in the 
display of that Art, wherein she was so pre-eminently 
skilled. Neither was any one more prompt in relieving 
the necessitous. She departed this life the 5th of July, 
1816, aged fifty. Remember and weep for her ! " 

The prejudice was so great against a Protestant and 
an actress that Greatorex had to choose a corner in a 
low, unused part of the cemetery, so low and damp 
that the authorities intended to raise that portion six 
feet. Thus a mound six feet high was heaped over 
the grave and the stone laid upon it under the idea 
that it would eventually be level with the surrounding 
ground. But the alteration was never made, and the 
heavy granite sank, until its head remained about three 
feet above the level and the foot one. Iron railings 
have since been put around the spot. 

Five years ago this part of the cemetery was 
reported as being depressing in the last degree ; damp, 
mouldy and neglected, the ground grown over with 
brambles and bushes, and strewn with crosses, cracked 
headstones and broken railings. In 1903 Aubrey, 
fourth Earl of Munster, visited and restored the grave, 
as a tablet attached to the railings records; yet now 
dark lichen is again growing over the stone and filling 
in the letter spaces, while the friendly ivy has crept up 
the hard railings, twined about two marble tablets 
attached to them, and is fast throwing thick tendrils 
over the whole grave. The tablets announce that in 
1847 ner affectionate daughter Lucy Hawker visited 
the spot, and that in 1842 her daughter Mary Fox was 
there. It took the daughters long to remember her; 
they did not think of it until his Most Gracious 

The Dead and the Living 401 

Majesty King William IV had been dead for years, 
and until, age creeping upon them, they better realized 
a mother's sorrows. 

After the funeral and the general settling up of 
things Miss Sketchley disappears from the story; she, 
like a loyal friend, had hotly resented the treatment 
given to Dorothy by her children, and was in return 
distrusted and hated by them. Lucy Hawker later 
became much disturbed as to what had happened to 
her mother's jewels, which had naturally been taken 
abroad. Had General Hawker gone in a dignified 
way to help settle Dorothy's affairs, this he would have 
learned ; but when the question arose it was too late. 
So Mrs. Hawker wrote to her aunt, Hester Bland, 
at Trelethyn, asking if she could throw any light on 
the matter, and as Miss Bland knew nothing of their 
whereabouts, Lucy concluded that Miss Sketchley had 
stolen them. 1 

Well, Miss Sketchley may have been unable to 
resist the temptation, seeing how little was owing to 
Dorothy's daughters; Dorothy may have given them 
to her at the last, or the police may have sold them 
with the other things. These respectable people in 
England could not put themselves to trouble until 
swayed by personal loss. 

On Mrs. Jordan's death the police put seals upon 
all her personal effects, and eventually sold them at 
public auction, "even her body linen was sold amid 
coarse remarks of low French women," said Mr. 
Woodgate, who was present. The money brought 
by the sale was probably sent over to England, for 
the King's solicitor collected Dorothy's effects, she 
being illegitimate and dying intestate; and letters of 

1 Information from private letters. 

402 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

administration were taken out at Doctors' Commons, 
May 24, 1817, the total amount from all sources being 
sworn at under ^300. For nearly seven years after 
that date nothing more was heard of this little sum, 
which naturally raised some heartburnings among her 
eldest daughters, who seem to have cherished a belief 
that their mother had, secretly, money in the funds. 
They thought that the Duke had taken possession of 
the ,300, for he and his agent had been guilty of 
extreme sharp practice with them. 

Their allowance had been paid regularly through 
Coutts's bank, and as Dorothy died on the 5th of July 
a further quarterly portion was due at the end of June. 
But before the 3Oth of June Barton had heard of Mrs. 
Jordan's supposed death, and he at once stopped all 
payments. Mrs. Hawker knew what had happened at 
St. Cloud, but Frances was then acting at Bath, and 
she and Mrs. March remained in ignorance. These 
daughters were in Cadogan Place in January when 
Miss Sketchley so much annoyed them, but by June 
the house had probably been turned over to the dis- 
honest Wigley, for Mrs. March, whose affairs were 
still in a painful condition, had, with her children, 
migrated to the rooms rented by Frances. The latter 
then owed her landlord, Withers, 170, and had pro- 
mised him something at the receipt of her allowance; 
so at the beginning of July Mrs. March went to the 
bank to draw the two allowances, and was informed 
that her mother was dead, and all further remittances 
were stopped. Which must have been a great shock 
to her, on both accounts. 

When Frances returned from Bath, her first action 
was to go to Englefield Green and gather together 
various things that were stored there belonging to her 

The Dead and the Living 403 

mother, to the value of 100, including some chimney 
ornaments, a pendule, an original oil portrait of 
Dorothy, a mirror once the property of David Garrick, 
and the little half-finished rug which had had its share 
in the quarrel with Clarence. It would be interesting 
to know which of the portraits Mrs. Alsop then secured 
and sold. 

Her next step was to write to the Duke, and 
this having no effect she followed Mrs. Clarke's his- 
toric action and began to write her memoirs, which 
would have included a long correspondence between 
Clarence and her mother but chiefly letters from 
Clarence from the beginning of their connection, for 
she was in possession of "sufficient letters and MSS. 
to fill a moderate sack." This volume Frances tried 
to get Withers to publish, saying that she feared no 
results, for if she were imprisoned for libel she would 
gain public pity. But he, not having the same incen- 
tive, prudently refused. During these negotiations 
she read part of her production to him, showing that 
" her mother's nightly salaries at Drury Lane were con- 
stantly paid in advance on the night of the perform- 
ance, ere she made her appearance on the boards. 3 ' 

Later biographers have always tried to save the 
royal honour by throwing scorn upon this and the 
many other statements to this effect, but not one of 
them has brought any evidence to disprove such state- 
ments, and Dorothy's later letters show that Clarence 
was always glad to receive contributions. 

A less sensitive publisher, Colburn, arranged to 
bring out Mrs. Alsop's book, and advertised it in June 
1817 as Authentic Memoirs of Mrs. for dan, but suc- 
cessful steps were taken to prevent its issue. 

When the rest of the family knew what evidence 

404 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

was hidden among those papers and letters, and also 
realized that their mother had nothing to leave any of 
them, they made an ineffectual attempt to secure 
something from the wreck. Now for the first time did 
the knowledge of the various " loans " become public, 
and such paragraphs as this from The Theatrical In- 
quisitor appeared in different papers, following upon 
the granting of letters of administration 

" It has since been asserted that the narrowness of 
this sum excited inquiry as to the disposal of her 
known accumulations; in consequence of which a 
memorandum has been traced in the writing of Mrs. 
Jordan which refers to various sums, amounting in 
the whole to 30,000, lent to a distinguished friend in 
trust for the children of a period previous to their 
connection. To this friend an application, it is said, 
has been made by the heirs for payment, with an 
assurance that the adjustment of their claims would 
not unwillingly be referred to the Court of Chancery." 

This threat levelled against the Duke had no result ; 
it was idle, of course, if Dorothy had given a receipt 
in full; so Frances continued to harry him while 
struggling against her ineffectiveness on the stage. 
Sympathy and her mother's memory gained her good 
engagements, but she never was anything but a copy 
of Mrs. Jordan, " a copy in water-colours." Her very 
tones were borrowed, and there is doubt that she 
possessed any real comic talent of her own. She 
quarrelled with her managers, and at times suffered 
great poverty. 

Then the usual course with an undesirable was 
followed. The Duke's agent paid a small premium 
on her debts of 3000, and gave her a chance of going 
to America in comfort. She took the chance, and 

The Dead and the Living 405 

landed in New York in September 1820, where she 
was announced on theatrical bills as " The Grand- 
daughter of the Late King of Great Britain." Six 
months later she died of an overdose of laudanum, 
whether unintentional or in a determination of taking 
her own life no one could tell. 

The year before this happened public interest over 
Mrs. Jordan was raised again to a white heat of scorn 
for the Duke, because at the end of June 1819 a state- 
ment appeared in The Messenger, an English paper 
published by Galignani in Paris. This was followed 
on July 4 by another, part of which ran 

:c We some days since inserted a letter on the sub- 
ject of an unliquidated debt of sixty francs, due to 
the municipality of St. Cloud, for the space of ground 
appropriated as the last resting-place of the late Mrs. 
Jordan. We feel called upon to state, that imme- 
diately after the publication of the above-mentioned 
letter, we received repeated applications, both personal 
and in writing, from various British residents, all 
expressing an anxious desire to be permitted to take 
the debt upon themselves, both from a national feel- 
ing of what was due to the character of our country, 
and an individual sentiment of respect for the amiable 
deceased; and although, as we have authority to 
mention, the sum in question has been paid by a 
particularly active competitor in the honourable race 
of generosity, we nevertheless continue each day to 
receive letters of the same import from the depart- 

Between 1816 and this date the Duke of Clarence, 
his agent and friends, had been disseminating the idea 
that Dorothy was in possession of wealth to the day 
of her death, and whenever opportunity arose, as when 

406 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Barrington wrote, the same course was pursued; but 
no protestations can contradict such plain facts as 
those of the administration of her money and this 
article from Paris. 

The little sum which was all that remained of the 
fortune Dorothy had earned was the property of the 
Crown because of her birth ; but the existence of debts 
caused it to be handed over to lawyers for use on a 
more auspicious occasion; and as in 1816 the debts of 
the Duke of Clarence, which he was trying hard to 
make the country pay, were a source of much gossip, 
Barton may have thought it wiser not to bring 
Dorothy's name again before the public. So it was not 
until more than seven years had passed, in December 
1823, that anything was done, and then this announce- 
ment appeared in the papers 

" DOROTHEA JORDAN, DECEASED. The creditors of 
Dorothea Jordan, late of Englefield-green and Cado- 
gan-place, Sloane-street, in the county of Middlesex, 
spinster, deceased, who have proved their debts may 
receive a dividend of five shillings in the pound, by 
applying at the office of the Solicitor to the Treasury, 
No. 5, Stone-buildings, Lincoln's-inn. And those 
creditors who have not yet proved their debts, are 
requested forthwith to furnish the Solicitor of the 
Treasury with proofs thereof." 

This was an incredibly stupid thing to have done 
even at that distance of time ; far better would it have 
been to have paid the trifle which was still owing than 
to stir up all the old scandal. However, the Duke 
had not been endowed with brains, and to his man 
had been denied the gift of imagination, so they 
deliberately walked into a mud heap of their own 

The Dead and the Living 407 

It is as well to examine the sum which remained to 
be paid. The amount in hand was less than ^300, and 
out of it five shillings in the pound was offered, which 
means that the proved debts were then less than the 
value of ;i2oo! And for 900 the royal Duke put 
Dorothy again into the position of a martyr with the 
public, and caused his own name to become the target 
once more of violent popular scorn and contumely. 

So by his own deed the Duke's reputation was torn 
to rags in the press, and there was no one to speak one 
word for him, save Barton, who at last responded with 
an anonymous defence which did nothing beyond add- 
ing fuel to the fire. Here is a specimen of the letters, 
this being addressed to The News 

" SIR, 

" I observed a few days ago (with what senti- 
ments of great indignation) an advertisement in the 
daily papers, announcing a dividend of five shillings in 
the pound as now in course of payment to the bona fide 
creditors of the late Mrs. Dorothea Jordan, formerly 
of Cadogan Terrace (sic) and lastly of St. Cloud in 

" To those, Sir, who have witnessed, as I have often 
done, the honourable and liberal feelings of the 
lamented lady in pecuniary matters, the generosity and 
self-denial with which she permitted her theatrical 
salary to be taken weekly and devoted to expenses of 
a domestic nature, which expenses in any similar case 
would have been defrayed from other funds, it must 
be a source of pain to see her name held up to the 
world as that of an insolvent who had lived beyond 
her income, and defrauded the honest tradesman of 
his due. I am persuaded that there are enough of her 

408 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

admirers still living, who, by a public subscription 
would have rescued her memory from this degrading 
but undeserved reproach. Though poor, my mite 
should cheerfully have been contributed to such a 
purpose, and hundreds would, I am assured, have been 
eager to do the same. If strangers to her domestic 
hospitality, and persons who never partook of her 
bounty, so feel, what may I be allowed to ask must 
have been the sensations of her high-bred children 
when they see their noble-minded parent thus held 
forth to public animadversion ! 

"To have been spared their feelings, had I, Mr. 
Editor, possessed no other resources, the privations 
of nature should have furnished the means to have 
rescued a beloved mother's name from such foul and 
lamented obloquy. 

" I am, Sir, 


Paragraphs from this letter were reproduced over 
the country and thus widely circulated, then on 
January 4, 1824, the anonymous defence appeared; 
but as it contains the same sentiments, information and 
phrases as the longer statement which was later forced 
from Barton's pen over his signature, there can be 
little doubt as to who was the author of this. It is but 
justice to reproduce this defence. 

" A paragraph is now in progress through the news- 
papers, stating that the debts of this lamented and 
interesting lady have been compounded for five shil- 
lings in the pound, which is now in course of payment. 
This statement is not correct : Mrs. Jordan died 
intestate in France; the consequence of which is, her 

The Dead and the Living 409 

property vests in the Crown, and it has become the 
duty of the King's solicitor to collect her effects and 
apply them in the first instance to the payment of her 
debts. He has done this, and announced a payment 
to the extent stated. This is the fact, but it is not 
a corn-position of the lady's debts; the same course 
would be adopted in the case of any other British 
subject dying abroad intestate. But perhaps it would 
not have been necessary to notice the misrepresenta- 
tion, were it not for the use to which it is applied by 
some of the public prints, in which it is made the 
ground of a bitter invective against a royal personage, 
formerly connected with that interesting female, by 
many dear and intimate ties. Nothing can be more 
unfounded than the charge, in which it is stated that 
she was left totally unprovided to pine and die in 
want in a foreign land. Mrs. Jordan enjoyed an 
income of ,2000 a year, settled upon her by the royal 
Duke. It was paid quarterly at Coutts's bank in the 
Strand; and the last quarter, which did not become 
due until after her death, was received by a lady, 
formerly a governess at Bushy, and afterwards 
resident with her as a companion in France, who came 
over to London for the purpose. But the report of 
the total abandonment and destitution of Mrs. Jordan 
is not new; it has been so long and frequently reported, 
and suffered to pass without contradiction, it is now 
received as truth in every circle; that it has not been 
noticed by some of the friends of the royal person 
aspersed, may excite surprise. We feel it our duty, 
however, to expose the misrepresentation, without 
regard to wishes of the friends of his Royal Highness. 
The exposure is due to the cause of truth, it is due to 
the country which has an interest in the character of 

4io The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

the illustrious individual so near to the throne, which 
could not belong to the case of a subject, however 
important, of inferior rank." 

An interesting point in this matter is that when 
Dorothy was induced to flee from England the debts 
were said to be ^2000, but after her death nine months 
later they were only under ^1200. How had the sum 
of ;8oo been cleared off ? Was that why Dorothy was 
so desperately poor when in France, or had March 
subsequently developed grit in his character, and paid 
off some himself? Barton also says that 500 was 
collected by Miss Sketchley after Mrs. Jordan's death, 
but March asserts that the last payment to her was 
made in the preceding April. Who was telling the 
truth ? or was that ^500 used to clear some part of the 
debt? Barton of course was not likely to divulge 
the enormous claims that there were upon Dorothy's 
allowance, her daughters, the Alsop debts and her own 
private ones. 

As Barton's longer and acknowledged statement has 
been practically reproduced in various parts of this 
book, only some few assertions need be added. By 
slightly altering the statement above reproduced he 
begins his explanation, then proceeds to acquaint the 
public " in the first place that it was through my hands 
that the whole transaction upon the separation of the 
Duke and Mrs. Jordan passed ; that it was at my sug- 
gestion Mrs. Jordan adopted the resolution of leaving 
this country for France, to enable her the more readily 
and honourably to extricate herself from troubles into 
which she had fallen through a misplaced confidence." 

The italics are not Mr. Barton's, but that sentence 
shows that he was responsible for that unnecessary 

The Dead and the Living 411 

and sad exile; he must have been aware at the time 
that there was no need for it, even though she felt 
herself past taking theatrical engagements. 

He then adds that up to " the day of their separation 
Mrs. Jordan had received a large annual allowance 
from his Royal Highness." And so again he stands 
convicted, for Dorothy's own letters prove that so far 
from the bond being honoured she had been spoon- 
feeding the Duke for years from her earnings. 

It was probably through Barton that Edward March 
wrote an "Authentic Statement," already quoted, to 
vindicate himself and incidentally the Duke from blame 
in the business; he speaks of himself under the title 
of "a near relative," details somewhat vaguely the 
story of the sudden discovery of her liability, says that 
no penny towards the liquidation of the debts was 
paid during her life, that she knew that no impediment 
to the arrangement of these debts existed, and conse- 
quently, when she found that month after month 
elapsed without anything being finally settled, her 
mind became troubled. He then detailed the dis- 
agreement with Miss Sketchley and the refusal 
through irritation to grant Mrs. Jordan's request to be 
assured on oath that no further claims existed ; stated 
that he knew nothing of the letter Dorothy had written 
to Barton, and that it was only in January 1816 that 
"the lady alluded to (Miss Sketchley) informed two 
of Mrs. Jordan's daughters, that Mrs. Jordan's future 
place of residence in France was to be kept a pro- 
found secret from them, and that all letters from them 
to their mother must be sent through a third person 
and directed to Mrs. James, instead of Mrs. Jordan." 

As has been said, Dorothy called herself James, and 
had her letters sent to a post-office from her first arrival 

412 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

in France, and he must have known it. Indeed, the 
whole authentic statement is so garbled, so contra- 
dictory in almost every particular that nothing is to 
be made of it. His last assertion is that " there can 
be no question that the mind of this great woman had 
been long and grievously oppressed. . . . Can there 
be a severer censure upon her memory than to think 
that pecuniary difficulties, even weighty (which hers 
were not), could for any length of time have depressed 
a mind such as hers in its perfect state ? " 

Well, she had surely had enough, if ever any woman 
had, to unhinge her mind, certainly to deprive it of 
courage and tranquillity; but those who saw her in 
France give no hint that she was mad, or even 

The newspaper controversy was in effect closed by 
a letter signed " Humanus," addressed to John Barton, 
which, though exaggerated in respect to Dorothy's 
life and condition in France, shows with satiric force 
the attitude generally adopted by the public on the 
matter. I quote only a part of it. 

"With your approbation she fled to France, and 
there lived in want and misery. Your amiable and 
illustrious master was not ignorant of her embarrass- 
ments; yet they were unheeded. How they affected 
her, the letter she wrote from St. Cloud is too 
melancholy an evidence. 

" It is well known she sunk under the pressure of 
her situation; foreigners supplied her with rags to 
cover her squalid and emaciated frame, and the 
benevolence of foreigners was taxed to lay her ashes 
in the tomb. Why did not you, sir, communicate these 
circumstances to your master? Why did you not say 
that the annuity was a sealed book that she was 

The Dead and the Living 413 

wretched and forlorn in a foreign land? Had your 
amiable and illustrious master heard this tale of woe 
he must have flown to her relief, repaid the large sums 
which he had drawn from her theatrical talents, or at 
least taken some steps to withdraw the arrest upon the 
annuity. Surely you must have known that a slander- 
ous world would have interpreted your apathy into the 
apathy of your patron, and that there was risk, how- 
ever pure and spotless the House of Brunswick is, of 
a shadow passing across the lustre of one of its 
brightest ornaments. And busy tongues, too, might 
have said that the bond had a careful provision, which 
by legal or voluntary assignees were to annul its 
efficacy, and that the prospect of these had swayed the 
noble-hearted and munificent granter in amplifying its 

"Unjustifiable and malicious as these allusions 
were, the credulous public might have given them ear, 
and it was your duty to have prevented them. You 
are not entitled, in exculpation, to plead the profuse 
allowance of two hundred pounds sterling afterwards 
granted to Mrs. Jordan's daughters. Is it any excuse 
to an ungrateful country that monuments are reared 
and paeans are sung to one whose lamp has expired 
from want of the oil of subsistence ? 

" The Athenians honoured their Socrates after 
compelling him to drink the hemlock juice." 

Dorothy was beyond love and beyond suffering, so 
this quarrel mattered nothing to her. The Duke's love 
went as she lost her youthfulness and grace, and for 
several years he was trying to sever the connection. 
When at last the strain had reached breaking-point 
he did his best to be relieved from the promise he had 
given her in legal form as to the provision to be made 

414 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

in such a case ; but being pinned down by it he 
gave her exactly what the bond decreed. Later he 
demanded a total termination of all intercourse with 
him even on the subject of their children, and left 
her in the hands of a lawyer, who was hired to exact 
the last farthing possible from all sources for his 
master, an arrangement which well suited him until 
this servant, unable to weigh causes and effects, to 
distinguish between an unknown woman and a public 
favourite, so bungled matters as to drag his employer's 
name publicly through the mud again and again. 

Happily she herself knew nothing of this later dis- 
grace ; she was dead, the light-hearted, gay spirit, who 
loved laughter better than tears ; the strong spirit, who 
bore in her youth the heavy burdens of others, and in 
later life expended herself upon her children and their 
father; the generous spirit, who gave royally and to 
whom so little was given; fortunately she was dead, 
while all these lesser people quarrelled and lied over 
her life and memory. 



" Judgment, which every little fault could spy ; 
But Candour, that would pass a thousand by : 
Judgment and Candour used together can 
Unravel secrets in the life of man." 


"Admiral Tarry-Breeks, a Royal Duke, 
The moral brother of a moral King, 
Is anxious 'mongst the Lords to look 
A sapient, nautical, and righteous thing. 

" But ere he points at Britain's Queen a shaft, 

Or steps, the ship that chases her, a-board on, 
He should remember memory looks abaft, 
And reads his morals in the hapless Jordan." 

"BEN BACKSTAY": The Black Dwarf. 

YET later arose the idea that Mrs. Jordan was not 
dead, Boaden started it in his " life " of her, so it took 
fifteen years to bring this fancy to birth. His story 
is that stopping one day to look in a bookseller's 
window in Piccadilly he saw a lady stop also, whom he 
became convinced was his old friend. However, she 
immediately dropped a long white veil over her face, 
so, concluding that she did not wish to be recognized, 
he " yielded to her pleasure on this occasion." The 
chief evidence he shows is that as Dorothy was near- 
sighted she used eye-glasses suspended from a gold 
chain round her neck, which she used in a very pecu- 
liar manner, a peculiarity which this unknown seems 
to have reproduced. 

Mrs. Alsop, too, said that she had met her mother 
in the Strand after her death, and was so certain of it 


4i 6 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

that it " threw her into fits at the time ; and to her own 
death she believed that she had not been deceived. 3 ' 

Because of the above gossip a further veil fell over 
Dorothy's fate, and later biographers cast doubt over 
the account of the last sad days; mystery is so much 
more romantic than plain fact. Why did not Boaden 
go the whole way, and say that he had seen her shade 
which had appeared to him to prove that she was really 
dead ? But it may safely be assumed that the Mayor of 
St. Cloud could not have registered as dead, a woman 
who had simply left the neighbourhood, nor would the 
various and independent accounts of her illness and 
death have provided such conclusive evidence. 

It would have been well if this book could have 
closed with the last chapter, but there are so many 
references to her in later years, and so many small 
points to clear up, that a few more pages are necessary. 

There is, for instance, the attitude of William, Duke 
of Clarence, who may have been greatly relieved at 
the removal of this incubus upon his mind. On the 
other hand, he may have been more worthy of the love 
with which Dorothy Jordan lavished upon him than 
history tells. He certainly became very ill in July 
1816, an illness which lasted so long that on August 
22 his birthday was celebrated at Frogmore without 
his presence. It is somewhat damping to sentiment, 
however, to find that the illness was ascribed to severe 
stomachic trouble. Though he was not at his birthday 
party, one may wonder whether his thoughts harked 
back to that birthday party ten years earlier when 
Dorothy took the head of the Royal table, the Prince 
of Wales on her right ; their children being brought in 
for the admiration of the guests. 

It has been said that he eventually continued his 

Gathered Ends 417 

allowance to Mrs. March and Mrs. later Lady Hawker; 
he also continued to Hester Bland at Trelethyn the 
annuity of 50 a year, and when he became King he 
doubled this amount, and the kind little Queen Victoria 
continued this sum until Hester died at the ripe age of 
eighty-nine, in 1848. It may also have been through 
the same source that the nonogenarian, Miss Thim- 
bleby lived free from want in Manfredonia. 

When William, in his fatuity joined in trying to 
destroy Queen Caroline, some papers became almost 
terrible in their wrath, and Jordan, Jordan, was the 
cry : " What, is the age so lost to dignity that avowed 
guilt can sit in judgment on persecuted innocence? 
One would think the spectre of the unfortunate Jordan 
would push him from his stool (in the House of Lords). 
. . . The people have seen open and notorious 
adulterers audaciously sitting in judgment upon a 
brave and virtuous Queen ; they have witnessed a man 
who has inundated his country with bastards, and 
deserted the deserving but helpless mother of his off- 
spring, and finally left her to perish like a dog in the 
streets, and to be buried as a pauper at the public 
charge when she ceased to maintain him by her own 
exertions, going about and slandering his sovereign, 
etc." (The Black Dwarf.) 

A caricature of this period actually did show 
Dorothy appearing to him from her coffin, to denounce 
him, though denunciation was the very last weapon she 
would have used. 

When Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen took the Duke 
in hand he was coarse, neglectful, almost brutal, 
looking upon her as just a medium for providing an 
heir to the throne. She, however, at once began the 
tutoring which he needed, and before long he began to 

4i 8 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

modify his most obvious sins of manner and life, an 
improvement which was soon communicated to the 
public in the usual pictures and verses. In one of the 
former the Duke and Duchess sit side by side on a sofa 
beneath a picture of the River Jordan with many tribu- 
taries, and with admonitory finger raised, Adelaide 
sternly says, " Mind ! I will not have it ! " to her 
gaping lord. 

It is probably due to Adelaide's fine sense of justice 
that at last Clarence came to realize Dorothy's worth, 
and would speak of her with tears in his eyes. Some 
time after becoming King he sent for Chantrey, the 
sculptor, and offered him the commission of making 
a marble monument to Dorothy, discussing at some 
length the proposed statue and the place in which it 
should stand. He then, says Miss Berry in her diary, 
" went into a thousand particulars of their private life, 
always ending that she had been an excellent mother 
to her children." 

Chantrey accepted the commission and produced the 
most beautiful emblem of maternal love that his mind 
could conceive. The face and figure are those of 
Dorothy, and the ineffable tenderness which curves 
the lips as she gazes down upon her child, reveals her 
mother-soul, strong with love and protectiveness. 

It was soon after his accession that he ordered this 
statue to be made, but in 1839 it was still in Chantrey's 
studio, and seemingly also after the sculptor's death, 
for the Earl of Munster, her child, had objected to the 
spot chosen for it. Thomas Moore mentions seeing it 
there, and a Mr. Cornish wrote of it in Notes and 
Queries in 1851 as having been there "some years 
since." It is curious, however, that the statue he saw 
does not tally with the known group. He says : " I 



Gathered Ends 419 

was singularly impressed with the gracefulness and 
beauty of a female figure, with three children ; one was 
at her breast, and in the curled head of another at her 
feet was the mother's hand enfolded. On the pedestal 
was this inscription : ' Sacred to the memory of Norah 
Bland/ " 

The statue which now holds an honoured place in 
the house of the present Earl of Munster, has but two 
children, a babe sleeping in the mother's lap, while 
she with her disengaged hand is softly drawing up 
some drapery to cover it, the curly-headed boy standing 
at his mother's knee and looking with childish wonder 
at his little sister. There also is no inscription other 
than the name of the sculptor. So what Mr. Cornish 
saw was perhaps a first suggestion for the statue, 
which had been retained in the studio. 

This beautiful work of art was for a considerable 
time at Mapledurham in the possession of her son 
Augustus, who, though longing to be a sailor, was 
thrust into the Church, that he might be provided for 
at the expense of the souls he could hardly hope to 
save. If this statue had to go begging for a resting- 
place in earlier days, there can be few of Dorothy's 
descendants now who would not welcome such a 
treasure into their homes with pride, for time brings 
its revenge, strips history of feeling and allows judg- 
ment to have its value. To-day we would seek a 
portrait of Dorothy Jordan with keen interest, while 
one of William IV would not, for its subject, draw the 
connoisseur into the next room. 

As for Dorothy's children we find stray evidences 
here and there that some of them remembered her with 
love and reverence. The poet Bunn gives a long entry 
in his diary of the date April 24, 1834, proving this. 

420 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

" Captain Lord Frederick Fitzclarence, who was 
present on this occasion (a command performance at 
Drury Lane), called me out of the Green Room, and 
with a considerable degree of excitement, said, ' Bunn, 
I have never been behind the scenes of this theatre 
since the last evening my dear mother performed here, 
and [here his Lordship took me by the arm, walked 
down the long passage on that side of the house, and 
kicked open the dressing-room door at the end of it] 
that is the room in which she used to dress. I came 
with her almost every night, long, long before I wore 
any of these gew-gaws [pointing to his uniform and its 
decorations]. Excuse my emotion [passing his hand 
over his eyes] I could not help, and to tell you the 
truth, I could not resist being here to-night, but I 
never mean to come again. I was happier then than, 
with all the enjoyments of life, I have ever been 

' The temporary astonishment of the performers 
thus suddenly broken in upon at their labours of the 
toilet were lost sight of in the admiration of those to 
whom this charming touch of nature was communi- 

How far Bunn's pride at being taken by the arm by 
one of William's children coloured this narrative 
cannot be said, but the Drury Lane in which Dorothy 
acted was burnt down in 1809, and rebuilt on a new 
plan, and only once at a charitable performance in 
1813 could she have been in the dressing-room which 
Frederick Fitzclarence so affectingly kicked open. 

Of Adolphus, the fourth son, Bunn wrote, on April 
28, 1838: "Favoured with a long chat by Lord 
Adolphus Fitzclarence, who is one of the very best 
hearted gentlemen of England to be found in her 

Gathered Ends 421 

broad and free land, and full of all good qualities. 
His habitual respect for the good old King, his ex- 
cellent father, and the fondness with which he clings 
to the minutest recollection of his gifted mother, 
would serve as a bright example to most of the 
aristocracy amongst whom he daily breathes." 

In conclusion, a list with some particulars, of 
Dorothy's children may be interesting. It can only 
be as exact as evidence allows, for much knowledge 
is wanting. 

Frances Daly, born 1782, married Thomas Alsop, 
1808, died in America, 1821. 

Hester Bettesworth, born (?). This daughter may be 
regarded as unproven, though she took the name of 
Bettesworth in 1806 because, as one journal said, "her 
father, having recently died, had left her considerable 
property." There are other indications of her 
existence however. 

Dorothea Maria Ford, born (?i787), married Ed- 
ward March, of the Ordnance Office, at the Tower of 
London, 1809, had several children, one Leopold, 
being educated for a time at Haverfordwest Grammar 
School, with young James, the adopted son of 
Nathaniel Bland. 

Lucy Ford, born 1788 or 1789, married General Sir 
Samuel Hawker, being his second wife, 1810, had ten 
children, one, Olivia, being baptized in Trelethyn. 

There were ten Fitzclarences, all of whom, with the 
exception of Henry, who died, and Elizabeth and 
Amelia, who already had higher rank, were given the 
position of the younger children of a Marquis in 1831. 
These were 

Sophia, born 1792 or 1797, married 1825, Mr. 

422 The Story of Dorothy Jordan 

Sydney, who was created a baronet, and then Lord 
de Lile and Dudley in 1835. Died at Kensington 
Palace 1837, had six children. 

George Augustus, Earl of Munster, born January 
23, 1794, married Mary, daughter of the Earl of 
Egremont. Died March 30, 1842, buried in Hampton 

Henry, born March 27, 1795, died, Captain in 27th 
Foot, India, 1817. 

Mary, born November 18, 1798, married 1824, 
Charles Richard Fox, son of Lord and Lady Holland. 

Frederick, born December 9, 1799, married Lady 
Augusta Boyle. 

Elizabeth, born January 18, 1801, married Decem- 
ber 1820, William George, Earl of Errol, son of Earl 
of Glasgow. 

Adolphus, born February 18, 1802, made Admiral 


Augusta, born November 20, 1803, married 1827, 
Hon. John Kennedy Erskine, widowed 1831, married 
again 1836, Lord Frederick Gordon, son of the 
Marquis of Huntly. 

Augustus, born March i, 1805, Rector of Maple- 
durham and Chaplain to William IV. Married Sarah, 
daughter of Lord Gordon. 

Amelia, born, it is believed, March 20, 1807, married 
1830, Lucius, 9th Earl Falkland. There was some 
confusion about the birth of Amelia, it being variously 
given as March 20, 1807, and November 5, 1803, the 
latter probably a misprint for 1806. 


ADELAIDE, Queen, 185, 285, 311, 


Adolphus, John, 118 
Advertiser and Oracle, 218, 254 
Alsop, Frances, 81, 197, 214, 242, 

252, 253, 255, 26 3> 272, 275, 

297, 304, 358, 359-368, 400-4, 

414, 421 
, Thomas, 272, 274, 283, 315, 

341, 362, 363, 421 

, William, 272 

Amelia, Princess, 226, 289, 307 
Angelo, Henry, 83 
Astley, Philip, 55, 201 
Athlone, Earl and Countess, 257 

Bannister, Charles, 243 

, John, 121, 199, 200, 209, 

241, 243, 247, 249, 368 
Barnes, Miss, no 
Barrington, Sir Jonah, v, vi, 13, 

18, 44, 45-8, in, 284, 291-6, 

297, 298, 370, 381, 391, 406 
Barrymore, actor, 103, 209 
Barton, John, 322, 329, 349, 359, 

367, 374, 377-8o, 382, 386-9, 

397, 402, 408, 412 

, Venus, 337 

Bate, " Parson, ;J 83 

Bayley, Capt. William, 108 

Bedford, Duke of, 276 

Belts Weekly, 349 

Belsance, Count, 175 

Benson, actor, 209 

Bentinck, Lord William, 372 

Berkeley, Grantley, 151 

Berry, Miss, 269, 418 

Bettesworth (? Hester), 115, 197, 

214, 243, 252-5, 421 

(? W. M.), 90, 105, 252, 254 

Betty, Henry West, 244-6 
Bignall, William, 274, 275 
Black Dwarf , 417 

Blake, Mrs. Warenne, 267, 321, 

Bland, Adam, 24 

, Dean, 25 

, Mrs. (Elizabeth Heaton), 25 

, Capt. Francis, 17, 20, 23, 

28-36, 78 
, Capt. Francis, jun., 33, 37, 

114, 166, 231-5 
, Mrs. Francis. See Grace 


, Francis Christopher, 165-7 

, George, 33, 37, 81, 95, 114-6, 

124, 132-6, 178, 231-5 
, Mrs. George (Maria Teresa 

Romanzini), 132-7, 390 
, Hester, 29, 35, 36, 38-40, 

74, 81, in, 214, 235, 401 

, Sir Humphry, 26 

, Rev. James, 25, 36 

, John, M.A., martyr, 24 

, John, barrister-at-law and 

actor, 25-8, 3 1, 32, 95, 1 29, 215 

, Mrs. John (Nancy), 28, 32 

, Lucy, 32, 33, 37 

, Nathaniel, Judge, 20, 24, 

25-30, 35, 37, 215, 216 
, Nathaniel, son of Judge 

Bland, 37, 157, 165 
, Nathaniel Philipps, 33, 36, 

81, 114, 115, 235, 362 
, Mrs. N. P. (Phcebe James), 

114, 235 

, Patricius de, 24 

Blane, Sir Gilbert, 265, 369 
Bleackley, Mr. Horace, viii, 18 
Boaden, James, v, vi, 12, 17, 18, 

63, 65, 85, 100, in, 123, 134, 

160, 176, 193, 199, 202, 205, 

2O7, 210, 2l8, 222, 224, 226, 

237, 251, 254, 276, 281, 283, 

284, 286, 290, 316, 343, 358, 
394 415 




Bon Ton Magazine, 17, 135, 155, 

177, 189, 190, 202, 203, 260 

Booth, Maryanne (Lady Ford), 


Boswell, James, 205 
Bouverie, Mrs., 172 
Brewster, Lucy, wife of Judge 

Bland, 25 
Broadley, Mr. A. M., vii, 18, 19, 

285, 385 

Brown, Mrs., 78, 86 
Brunton, Miss, 86, 121 
Buckingham, Duke of, 322 337 
Buckinghamshire, Countess of. 

See Mrs. Hobart 
Bunn, Alfred, 419 

Cady of the Royal Circus, 132 
Calvert, Hon. Mrs., 267, 321, 339 
Cambridge, Duke of, 257, 258, 

, Richard Owen, 153 

Campbell, Thomas, 101, 103, 245 
Carey, George Saville, 121, 186 
Carlisle, Nicholas, 27 
Caulfield, comedian, 136, 137 
Chalmers, W. A., 183, 186 
Chantrey, Sir Francis, 418 
Charlotte, Queen, 180 181, 226, 

277> 307, 3ii, 338, 351 

, Princess, 338 

Charlton, actor, 368 

Cherry, Andrew, 229 

Christian, Admiral Sir Charles, 
192, 203 

Clarence, William Duke of, v, vii, 
11-16, 65, 104, 121, 146, 158, 
159, 161, 167, 171, 175, 180, 
184, 187-9, 200, 203-5, 2II 
216, 218, 220, 230, 234-6, 242, 
245, 248, 251, 253, 256-61, 
265-7, 269, 271-2, 274, 278-9, 
284, 289, 293, 297, 299, 302, 
305, 319-39, 345-9, 352, 358, 
365, 37 1 , 373, 377-9, 3Qi, 397. 
401, 403, 405, 413 

Clarke, Mary Anne, 277, 403 

Cleveland, Duchess of, 193 

Clive, Kitty, 86 

Cobbett, William, 12, 256-61, 267 

Coffin, Col. John Pyne, 372-3, 

Colburn, Henry, 403 

Collier, Lady, 108 

Collingwood, Admiral, 267 

Colman, George, jun., 197 

Copeland, Robert, 261 

Corri, 295, 297 

Crampton, Dublin manager, 296 

Creevey, Thomas, 383 

Crosby, " Balloon," 47 

Crouch, Mrs. Anna Maria, 109, 

118, 120, 124, 163, 169, 181, 

193, 241 
Cumberland, Ernest Duke of, 150, 

248, 323, 226 

, Richard, 200, 221 

Cuthbertson, Miss, 195 

Daily Advertiser and Oracle, 254 
Daly, Richard, 16, 42, 43, 46-55, 

65, 132, 200, 271 

, Frances. See Alsop 

Dalrymple, Miss, 108 

De Camp, Miss, 223 

De Lisle and Dudley, Lord, 421 

Denmark, Princess of, 338 

Derby, Countess of. See Miss 


, Earl of, 211 

Dictionary of National Biography, 

21, 44, 206 

Digges, West, 26, 32, 95 
Dowton, William, 185 
Doyne, Cornet Charles Powlett, 


Dramatic Magazine, 84, 123, 219 
Dublin Evening Post, 55 
Dublin Satirist, 295 
Ducamp, Madame, 381 
Dwyer, actor, 291, 292, 295-7 

Eden, Baron, 257 

Edinburgh Herald, 129 

Edwin, John, 125 

Egan, Pierce, 261 

Elizabeth, Princess, 226 

Elliot, Mrs., 217, 218 

Elphinston, Margaret, Baroness 

Nairn, 337 

Errol, William, Earl of, 229, 422 
Erskine, Hon. John Kennedy, 422 
Esten, Mrs., 54, 139 




Falkland, Earl of, 422 

Farren, Miss (Countess of Derby), 

81, 101, 109, 120, 123, 197, 199, 


Fashionable Cypriad, in, 204, 257 
Fife, Duke of, 15, 229 
Finch, Polly, 153 
Fisher, 380 

, Clara, 246 

Fitzclarence, Admiral Adolphus, 

229, 268, 420, 422 
, Amelia, Viscountess Falkland, 

184, 263, 422 
, Augusta, Lady Frederick 

Gordon, 247, 422 
, Augustus, Rev., Rector of 

Mapledurham, 247, 267, 419, 

, Elizabeth, Countess Errol, 

229, 422 
, Frederick, 225, 285, 366, 371, 

383, 420 
, George, Earl of Munster, 184, 

192, 218, 219, 260, 267-8, 289, 

293, 319, 355, 363-5,418-9,422 
, Henry, Lieutenant, 201, 202, 

267, 303, 340, 355, 364, 366, 422 
, Mary, Lady Mary Fox, 397, 

400, 422 
, Sophia, Lady De Lisle and 

Dudley, 213, 267, 303, 319, 351, 

383, 397, 42i 

Fitzgerald, Lord Henry, 201, 273 
Fitzherbert, Mrs., 150, 179, 187, 

Ford, Dorothea Maria. See March, 


, James, Dr., 105, 113 

, Lucy. See Hawker, Lady 

, Richard, Sir, 16, 105-7, IIO > 

112, 116, 134, 137-40,154, 156- 

62, 167, 176, 180, 241, 251, 274 

, Richard, junior, 162 

Fortescue, Hon. Julia, 148 
Fox, Charles Richard, 422 
Freemarfs Journal, 292 
Fuller, Mr. J. Franklin, vii, 18, 20, 

55, 165 

Gainsborough, Thomas, 183, 186 
Gazetteer^ The, 153, 166,168-9, 171 

Genest, John, 103, 121, 198, 

Gentleman 's Magazine, The, 129, 

136, 192, 213, 273 
George III, 147-55, 180-2, 225-7, 

IV, 146, 148, 150, 163, 175, 

1 80, 257, 279, 302, 317 
Gillray, James, 179 
Gloucester, Duchess of, 175 
Glover, William Howard, 28 
Goodall, Mrs., 170, 199 
Gordon, Duchess of, 276 

, Lord Frederick, 422 

, Pryse Lockhart, 43-4 

Gould, barrister, 295 

Great Illegitimates, The, 18, 52, 94, 

105, 107-8, in, 140, 157, 159, 

I6I-2, I6 4 , 176, 202, 2 4 9, 251, 
254, 314, 380 

Greatorex, Englishman living in 

Paris, 395, 399 
Greenwich, Lady, 153 
Gunning, General, 252 

Hanger, Major, 175 

Harris, Thomas, 83, 86, 120, 124 

Haslewood, Joseph, 17 

Hastings, Warren, 125 

Hawker, Lady, Lucy Ford, 197, 
214, 242, 252, 286, 290, 293, 
298, 302, 303-4, 340, 361, 366, 
393, 400, 401, 421 

, General Sir Samuel, 298, 303, 

37 6 , 397, 40i, 421 

, Colonel, 381 

Hayes, Sir John, 241 

Hazlitt, WHliam, 86 

Henshaw, William, 396 

Herbert, Joseph Dowling, 37~4 

44, 49, 53 . 

Hewson, Major L., viii 
Hill, Lady Anne, 108 

, John Foster, 108 

Hitchcock, Robert, 21, 23, 30 
Hobart, Henry, 153 

, Mrs., 190-2, 254 

Honeywood, General, 26 
Hoppner, John, 183, 185 
Hotham, Baron and Lady, 257 
Huish, Robert, 19, 326 
Hunt, Leigh, 183 




Inchbald, George, 74, 90 

, Mrs., 85, 121 

Ireland, Samuel, 205 
, William Henry, 205 

ackson, of Edinburgh, 127, 130 
errold, Douglas, 355, 381 
ohnson, General James, 21 
ones, Frederick, 271, 291, 295 
ordan, Dorothy, her birth, 31 ; her 
baptism, 32 ; first appearance on 
stage, 39; in The Virgin Un- 
masked, 40; in As You Like It, 40; 
in The Governess, 40-1 ; in The 
Romp) 41; visit to Cork, 44; 
first offer of marriage, 45 ; in The 
Count of Narbonne, 50, 53 ; and 
Daly, 50 ; in The Gamester, Tamer- 
lane, Richard III, The Bellas 
Stratagem, The Discovery, The 
School for Scandal, The Taming 
of the Shrew, and The Maid of 
the Oaks, 53 ; in Leeds, 57 ; and 
Wilkinson, 58; in The Fair 
Penitent, 61 ; in Leeds, 61, 91 ; 
takes name of Jordan, 62 ; and 
Mr. Swan, 66 ; salary doubled, 
67 ; in The Fair American, 68 ; 
jealousy of fellow actresses, 68 ; 
in danger of her life, 68 et seq. ; 
gives birth to Frances Daly, 70 ; 
the " Scandal Club," 70; at Shef- 
field, 71 ; kindness to young 
actress, 73 ; in love with George 
Inchbald, 74, 90; in The Poor 
Soldier, 75; refusal to act, 75; 
London offer, 77; and Mrs. 
Brown, 78 ; in The Country Girl, 
77) 82 ; in Cymbeline, 80 ; criti- 
cisms upon, 83 ; two increases 
of salary, 87 ; in Trip to Scar- 
borough, 88 ; in The Irish Widow, 
and She Would and She Would 
Not, 89 ; her triumph, 89 ; her 
first tour, 90 ; and Mrs. Robin- 
son, 91 et seq. ; first visit to Scot- 
land, 97 ; epilogue written by, 
97 ; Glasgow tribute to, 98 ; dis- 
appointment at Hull, 98 ; in 
RichardCceurdeLion, 99 ; failure 
in Cymbeline, 101 ; in Love for 
Love and The Pilgrim, 103 ; her 

amours, 105 ; calls herself Mrs. 
Ford, 1 06 ; birth of daughter in 
Edinburgh, no; trouble with 
Drury Lane manager, 113 ; in 
The Constant Couple, 117; at 
Cheltenham, 119; birth of 
daughter, 121 ; in The Panel, 
Impostors, and The Confederacy, 
122 ; as Child of Nature, 122 ; 
quarrel with Kemble, 124, 193 ; 
in Know Your Own Mind, 123 ; 
threatens to leave Drury Lane, 
125 ; and Tate Wilkinson, 126 ; 
death of her mother, 128 ; trouble 
with Jackson, 130 ; in Belle's 
Stratagem, The Spoiled Child, 
etc., 134 ; again goes to York- 
shire, 137 ; in The Greek Slave, 
Better Late Than Never, and The 
Intriguing Chambermaid, 137; 
final quarrel with Wilkinson, 138 ; 
said to have joined the Duke of 
Clarence in 1789, 153; carica- 
ture, 154; scandal about, 154; 
epilogue to Greek Slave, 155; 
parts with Ford, 156-62 ; exoner- 
ating letters from Ford, 161 ; 
theatrical jealousy of, 163; agree- 
ment with Clarence, 164 ; in dis- 
tress, 166; legacy, 167; takes 
house at Brompton, 168 ; absent 
from theatre, public excitement, 
169-76; salary taken by Duke, 
176; caricatures of, 178-80; in 
Cheap Living, 1 78 ; her portraits, 
183; sits to Romney, 184; in 
The Fugitive, 189 ; letter to Mrs. 
Hobart, 190; miscarriage, 192; 
letter to Sheridan, 194 ; in Anna, 
195 ; in All in the Wrong, and 
The Female Duellist, 1 96 ; trouble 
about playbills, 196; birth of 
George Fitzclarence, 197 ; in The 
Wedding Day and Nobody, 198 ; 
in First Love and The Old Maid, 
200; at Richmond, 200; offer 
from Daly, 200; in The Plain 
Dealer, 202 ; birth of Henry, 202 ; 
breakfasts at St. James's, 204 ; 
in Vortigern and Rowena, 204 ; 
and the Irelands, 204-7 ; trouble 
with Kemble over Hamlet, 207 ; 



gives her services, 209 ; at Rich- 
mond, 210 ; at Bushy House, 
212 ; introduced to Boaden, 218 ; 
Macklin, 220 ; in The Will and 
The Last of the Family, 221 ; 
the Irishman and, 222; in The 
Prize and The Castle Spectre, 
222 ; in She's Eloped, and The 
Stranger, 223 ; in The East 
Indian and Pizarro, 224 ; com- 
mand performances, 226 ; in The 
School for Scandal, 227; as com- 
poser, 228 ; her children, 230 ; 
want of money, 230; her rela- 
tions, 231 ; accident by fire, 239 ; 
in The Busybody, 241 ; in The 
Marriage Promise, 242 ; in The 
Soldier's Daughter, Delaval, 
Clara, and The Land We Live 
In, 243; and Betty, 245; birth 
of Augustus and Augusta, 247; 
in Thalia's Tears, 250; fete at 
Gyfford Lodge, 252; Clarence's 
birthday party, 256-61 ; and 
Pierce Egan, 261 ; birth of 
Amelia, 263 ; illness, 264, 271 ; at 
Bath, 270; in The Chance, 271; 
in Man and Wife, 272 ; marriage 
settlement of Dorothea, 274 ; her 
letters, 275, 278, 285, 287, 309, 
314; savings, 275; quarrels with 
Clarence, 275, 281, 314; scandal, 
276 ; leaves Drury Lane, 280 ; 
loss by fire, 280 ; sends money 
to Clarence, 286 ; returns to 
Dublin, 290 ; the Battle of Tala- 
vera, 294 ; at Liverpool, etc., 
297 ; liberality at Chester, 300 ; 
marriage of Lucy, 303 ; proposed 
epitaph on, 304 ; and the Method- 
ists, - 305 ; rush from Glasgow, 
305 ; to leave the stage, 306 ; at 
Covent Garden, 312, 347; sum- 
moned from Cheltenham, 318; 
negotiations for separation, 322 ; 
the settlement, 329-31 ; leaves 
Bushy Park, 339 ; pays Alsop's 
debts and returns to stage, 342 ; 
at Leicester, 345; attacked by 
The Times, 347; in Debtor and 
Creditor, 352 ; goes to Brussels, 
354; income, 370-1 ; and Colonel 

Coffin, 373; last appearance, 
373 ; ruined by March, 374 ; asks 
Barton's help, 376; sells her 
furniture, 380; at Marquetra, 
381 ; at Versailles, at St. Cloud, 
384; her poverty, 385 ; her fears, 
386 ; last illness, 391 ; story of 
her death, 392 ; her burial, 394 ; 
grave and inscription, 399 ; her 
jewels, 401 ; sale of her effects, 
401 ; her savings, 404 ; debt on 
her grave, 405 ; debts advertised, 

Jordan, Dorothy, an earlier bap- 
tismal entry, 64 

Jordan's Elixir of Life, 17, 19, 21, 

Keate, Dr., 171 

Keates, Admiral, 267 

Keith, Lord, 337 

Kelly, Michael, 163, 225 

Kemble, Charles, 240, 241 

, John Philip, 49, 5 53> l 

114, 119, 124, 134-5, 141, 193. 

198, 205-9, 218, 224, 237, 240, 

244-5, 290 

, Stephen, 141, 144, 197 

Kemeys, Diana, 25 

Kent, Edward, Duke of, 248, 257, 

259, 339 
King, Tom, 82, 86-7, 108, in 

114, 119,120,239 
Knight, Joseph, 21, 
Kotzebue, dramatist, 224 

Lawrence, Mr. W. J., viii, 44, 

1 86 

Lefanu, Mrs., 42 
Leicester, Lord, 257 
Leslie, C. R., 264 
Lewis, Charles Lee, 197, 240 

, " Monk, ;J 222 

Linsingen, Caroline von, 150-1 

, Ernst von, 150 

, General Wilhelm, 150 

Litchfield, Mrs., 187, 240 

Lloyd, Jane, 340, 353, 365, 371-2 

, Mrs., 214, 217, 370 

, Rev. Thomas, 214, 251, 373 

Londonderry, Marquis of, 268 
Long, Lady Catherine Tylney, 316 



Long, Catherine Tylney, 311, 316 

319-323, 328, 333-7 
Lumm, Sir Francis, 21, 32, 34, 

107, 1 66 
, Lady, 107, 157, 166 

Macklin, Charles, 220 

M'Mahon, Colonel, 257, 342, 356, 


Mahoney, Catherine, 33, 34, 35 
March, Dorothea Maria (Ford), 

197, 214, 242, 252, 273-5, 281, 

361, 402, 421 
, Frederick Edward, 275, 283, 

304, 357, 363-7, 374-9, 383, 

389, 410-1, 421 

, Leopold, 421 

Marron, Rev. Mr., 396 
Marshall, Serjeant, 257 
Massereene, Earl of, 254 
Mathews, Charles, 264 
Mellon, Harriot, Duchess of St. 

Albans, 128, 247 
Messenger, 405 
" Miso Puff," 208 
Moira, Lord, 342, 364 
Mongis, Jean Jacques, 391, 394 
Monthly Mirror, 210, 227, 238, 

248, 266, 296, 304 
Moore, Sir John, 289 

, Thomas, 418 

Morland, George, 183, 186 
Morning Chronicle, 164, 171, 175 
Morning Herald, 84 
Morning Post, 82, no, 121, 124, 

251, 253, 284, 349 
Mountain, Mrs. See Wilkinson, 


Munster, Aubrey, Earl of, 400 
, Earl of, viii. 

News, 349, 407 
Nixon, Andrew, 303 
Norfolk, Duke of, 68, 109 
North, Lady, 212 
Northcote, James, 245 
Notes and Queries, 228, 418 

Ogborne, John, 184 
O'Keefe, John, 40, 223 
Oldenburg, Duchess of, 337 
Oliphant, Laurence, 233 

Orange, Prince of, 200, 352 
Oxberry, William, 49, 50, 78, 317 

Paget, Colonel, 257 
Palmer, John, 120, 224 

, Mrs., 205 

Parsons, William, 120 
Pasquin, Anthony, 146 
Philipps, Blanch Scuddamore. See 

, Grace (Mrs. Francis Bland), 

17, 20-4, 28-45, 54, 56-6o, 

78-80, 129 

, Miss M., 23-4, 63-5 

, Rev. (? Richard), 20, 22 

, Rev. Scuddamore, 22 

Pindar, Peter, Jun., 163, 177, 334, 


Pitt, William, 248 
Pole, Wellesley, 321, 328, 337-7 
Political Register, 256-261 
Pope, Mrs., 199, 209 

, Jane, 269 

Public Advertiser, 89, no, 115, 

Punch, 177, 185 

Quentin, Colonel, 355 

Rambler, 123 
Reynolds, Frederick, 221 
Richardson, Rev. William, 114 
Richmond, Duke and Duchess, 


Roberts, Mr. W., viii., 183 
Robinson, Mrs. ("Perdita"), 198 
, Mrs. (later Mrs. Taylor), 

79, 90, 112 
Romanzini, Maria Teresa. See 

Bland, Mrs. George 

, Mrs., 51 

Romney, George, 183 
Roos, Lady de, 298 
Russell, actor, 261 

, Sir Henry, 183 

Ryder, Thomas, 38, 40, 42, 46 

, Miss, 138 

Ryley, Samuel, 299 

St. Leger, Colonel, 175 

Satirist, The, 264 

Sciard, Louis Amable, 394 



Secret History of the Green Room, 
17, 52, 133, 135, 167, 187, 190 

Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, 82, 
84, 106, in, 125, 181, 193,207, 
218, 224, 225, 279, 280 

, Thomas, 23 

, Tom, 271 

Siddons, Mrs., 77, 79, 81, 88, 99, 
101-4, 108, 118, 120, 123-4, 
128, 135, 141, 197-8, 205, 208, 
222, 224, 236, 241, 244-5, 250, 

Sinclair, Mrs., 214-5 

, Robert, 215 

Sketchley, Miss, 341, 366, 381-2, 

384, 386, 389, 393, 401-2, 411 
Smith, "Gentleman," 67, 77, 83, 

119 120 

, Mrs., 69 

Southey, Robert, 338 
Stewart, General, 289 
Stirling, Miss A. M. W., 269 
Strange, Alexander, 216 

, General Thomas Bland, 215 

Sun, The, 253, 349 
Sussex, Duke of, 248, 257 
Swan, Cornelius, 66 
Sydney, Viscount Henry, 25 

Taylor, Mrs. See Mrs. Robinson 
Tennant, Sir Charles, 184 
Theatrical Inquisitor, 269, 349, 


Thimbleby, Miss, 233, 417 
Tickell, Mrs., 84 
Times, 347, 394 
Town and Country Magazine, 17, 

105, 251, 260 
Traherne, H. M. A., 193 
Troubridge, Admiral Sir Thomas, 


Turner, Miss, 213, 216 
Tweeddale, Marchioness of, 252 

Usher, actor, 24 

Vicars, Miss, 45 
Vickery, W., 385 
Victoria, Queen, 15, 417 

Walker's Hibernian Magazine, 42, 

Walpole, Horace, 86, 152-3, 156, 

158, 191 
Ward, Mr. Humphry, 183 

, Mrs., actress, 71 

Ware, Charles H., 275 
Watkins, Rev. John, 160, 172 
Wellington, Duke of, 337 
Wenman, Lord, 338 
Westmeath, Lord, 271 
White, Mrs., viii 
Whyte, Mr. Frederick, 26 
Wigley, Charles, 380, 402 
Wilkinson, Miss (Mrs. Mountain), 

, Tate, 56 et seq., 91, 109, 

115, 125, 128, 138, 145, 196 
William, Prince, 175 
Williams, Helen Maria, 99, 100, 

221, 389, 392 

, Mrs., 22, 33, 37, 81, 167 

, Thomas, 22 

Withers, , 402-3 

Woffington, Peg, 86 

Wolcot, Dr. ("Peter Pindar"), 


Woodfall, William, 79 
Woodgate, Henry, 399, 401 
World, The, 151 
Wowski, 151 

Wright, Rev. William, 172 
Wroughton, Richard, 178, 211, 


Wykeham, Miss, Baroness Wen- 
man, 338-9 

York, Frederick, Duke of, 149, 
180-1, 232, 234, 257-9, 277-8, 

Young, Dr. Townsend, 13, 343 







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